‘False accusations’: Pinoys flag TikTok account posting dubious info on West Philippine Sea

March 12, 2024 - 12:26 PM
TikTok account
Screengrab from a video posted by TikTok account @mediaunlock (mediaunlock/TikTok)

Filipinos flagged a TikTok account spreading some dubious information about maritime tensions in the West Philippine Sea involving Chinese and Philippine vessels.

A Reddit user on Monday raised alarm over the TikTok account @mediaunlock which posts clips of news presenters talking about aggressions in the West Philippine Sea.

The reports are using the Chinese names of the territories such as Ren’ai Reef for the Ayungin Shoal (internationally known as Second Thomas Shoal) and Huangyan Island for Bajo de Masinloc (internationally known as Scarborough Shoal).

Ayungin Shoal is a low-tide elevation with the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

“In accordance with the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the final and binding 2016 Arbitral Award, it cannot be appropriated for sovereignty claims. International law affirms that the Philippines exercises sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the feature,” the DFA said before.

Bajo de Masinloc, on the other hand, is a large coral atoll which is approximately 124 nautical miles west of Luzon.

Academics said that it is also one of the oldest known fishing grounds of Filipinos, with some Commonwealth-era maps including it as among the natural resources of the Philippine Islands under the name Scarborough Shoal.

Meanwhile, another video from the mentioned TikTok account said that the “Philippines broke their promise and sent vessels into the area near Ren’ai Reef in the South China Sea.”

On March 5, the Philippine government said that Chinese vessels “harassed, blocked, deployed water cannons, and executed dangerous maneuvers” to impede a routine resupply and rotation mission to BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal.

The use of water cannons resulted in the shattering of a windshield of a Philippine vessel, injuring at least four personnel on board.

RELATED: Philippines summons China diplomat over ‘aggressive’ actions in South China Sea

China has been aggressively claiming territories in the West Philippine Sea, which lies over the eastern parts of the South China Sea that are within Manila’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The EEZ is an area where the coastal country has sovereign rights over the sea’s exploration and use of its marine resources. This is 200 nautical miles measured from the baselines of the territorial sea.

China’s claims were made despite the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling in July 2016 which recognizes the Philippines’ sovereign rights over the areas contested by Beijing.

‘Full of Lies’

On Monday, Reddit user @Realistic_Half8372 flagged some of the video reports of the TikTok account which has the description: “China-based Journalists | Covering China & Global Issues”

“Full of lies!” the Redditor exclaimed.

“Idk [I don’t know] if this is the right sub for this, but just grazed this channel in TikTok and is [spreading] false accusations of what is currently happening in West Philippine Sea. The reporters are even AI [generate]. You can tell by the video,” the user added.

“Idk [I don’t know] if I should call it but, can we mass report it? Already reported misinformation on the videos regarding the altercations in the West Philippine Sea during resupply missions,” the Redditor said.

Full of lies!
byu/Realistic_Half8372 inPhilippines

Others agreed with the Redditor, while some reminded the user that China has been using the platform to spread “propaganda.”

TikTok was developed by ByteDance, a Chinese internet technology firm headquartered in Beijing.

“On TikTok, an app owned by mainland Chinese? Not a snowball’s chance in a microwave,” a Reddit user said in response to appeals of “mass reporting” the video contents.

There have been reports of the video-sharing platform being used as a propaganda tool before.

A 2023 report by Forbes noted that “TikTok has served up a flood of ads from Chinese state propaganda outlets to millions of Europeans in recent months,” citing an ad library published by the company on July 20, 2023.

“An analysis of the ad library conducted by Forbes showed that as of Wednesday, July 26, more than 1,000 ads from Chinese state media outlets like People’s Daily and CGTN have run on the platform since October 2022,” Forbes said before.

“Much of the content advertised by China state media on TikTok focused on frequent talking points from its TV, radio and print outlets that tout China’s economy, technology and cultural heritage,” it added.

“References to Xinjiang, where the U.S. government have branded the Chinese government’s campaign of mass repression, imprisonment and ‘reeducation’ as a genocide, appeared in 92 of the 124 adverts promoted by one state media account,” the report said.

A December 2023 report by NBC News also said that “a new report from the Network Contagion Research Institute says that TikTok likely promotes and demotes certain topics based on the perceived preferences of the Chinese government.”

“We assess a strong possibility that content on TikTok is either amplified or suppressed based on its alignment with the interests of the Chinese Government,” it quoted in the report.

TikTok is among the most popular social media apps in the Philippines.