Hong Kong newspaper runs article on spread of misinformation in Philippines

April 5, 2022 - 6:30 PM
Image by pixel2013 via Pixabay

A free newspaper in Hong Kong published an article about the widespread misinformation in the Philippines amid the campaign season and ahead of the 2022 polls.

The Standard, an English-language publication in Hong Kong, released an article on March 30 with a headline that reads: “Filipinos fall for fake history.”

Some online users managed to secure a copy of it and shared a photo of the paper online.

An entertainment page called CinemaBravo was among those who shared this photo on Facebook.

Journalist Christian Esguerra shared a link to the online version of it on Twitter.

The report by Faith Brown was originally published by news wire Agence France-Presse on March 23.

Its real headline also reads: “Marcos heir wins Philippine election misinformation race.”

Misinformation campaign in PH

Brown’s report showed the picture of how social media platforms in the Philippines are used in a “massive misinformation campaign.”

“False and misleading claims have flooded Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and Twitter in the lead-up to the May 9 polls, pounding Filipinos with a relentless barrage of propaganda on platforms where they rank among the heaviest users in the world,” she wrote.

Brown said that this online campaign favored presidential hopeful Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his family.

The main target of false and misleading posts, however, is his political rival Vice President Leni Robredo.

Citing data from CrowdTangle, Brown said that more than 100 pro-Marcos pages have had nearly 75 million interactions (reactions, comments or shares) with posts in the past year.

Some of these pages have only at least 3,000 followers.

Pro-Robredo pages pale in comparison, however, with 39 million interactions.

Brown further noted an instance of an uptick in pro-Marcos pages.

After Robredo announced her presidential bid on October 7, pro-Marcos pages immediately spiked to a staggering 1.8 million. This translates to nine times more on a daily average.

Pro-Robredo pages only received 487,000 interactions on that day.

Brown also mentioned the takedown of more than 300 accounts on Twitter last January.

These accounts were reportedly promoting the candidacy of Marcos.

They violated the platform’s policies against manipulation and spam, thus resulting in their removal.

Recap of data from fact-checkers

Data from fact-checking alliance Tsek.ph was also cited by the AFP report.

READ: Dominant disinformation disparages EDSA, fact checkers say

According to their preliminary analysis, last February, Maria Diosa Labiste and Yvonne Chua said that Robredo mostly received negative messages online and Marcos has “overwhelming positive ones.”

“Data show Robredo reeling from preponderantly negative messages and Marcos Jr. enjoying overwhelming positive ones. Of the false or misleading narratives involving Robredo, 94% were aimed against her, while all the narratives that mentioned her running mate, Sen. Francis Pangilinan, were likewise negative,” they said in their study.

Labiste and Chua perceived this situation as “reminiscent” of the trend during the national elections in 2016.

“This playbook was adopted by supporters of Sara Duterte-led Hugpong ng Pagbabago for administration candidates in the 2019 midterm elections. This strategy involves viral outbreaks of false information from the specific actors and narrative cache of fringe sources,” they said.