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Educators to fact-check candidates and supporters, flag revisionists

/ 05:32 AM November 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Members of the academic community have formed an alliance network aimed at fighting disinformation and electoral fraud ahead of the May 2022 elections.

The Akademya at Bayan Laban sa Disimpormasyon at Dayaan (ABKD), which is composed of teachers and educators from various disciplines and academic institutions, will check the claims of candidates and their supporters for accuracy and, as well, counter false information on social media through webinars and meetings for voter education.

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To accomplish all these, said Francisco Guiang, lead convener of ABKD and a history professor at the University of the Philippines (UP), the network would collate sources of disinformation and produce videos featuring academics fact-checking the materials.

He said the videos would be released every week through the network’s YouTube and Facebook page (facebook.com/2021ABKD) “to alert people on sources of disinformation, fake news and historical revisionism.”

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Active role

While there are other fact-checking entities and similar efforts by various groups, the network’s initiative is one of a kind because academics and educators themselves will serve as watchdogs against disinformation, Guiang said.

Janette Malata-Silva, vice chancellor for student affairs at UP Los Baños, said ABKD “seeks to take on an active role in fighting disinformation and potential fraud in the 2022 elections.”

She said the network “aims to expose, combat and correct the spread of misinformation and lies that are rampant on TikTok, Facebook and other social media platforms.”

According to Carl Ramota, a professor at UP Manila, teachers, whether at the basic, secondary or tertiary level, play a very important role not just in shaping the values of students but also in equipping them to think critically.

A prepandemic survey by the Social Weather Stations showed that almost half of Filipino adults had access to the internet in 2019, and about 98 percent of them, or 29.4 million, had Facebook accounts.

Ramota underscored the vital role that social media had taken in information dissemination, pointing out that more Filipinos were using online platforms for their daily news.

“Spreading information is political, but more so the deliberate spreading of wrong information that usually comes from groups or individuals that are ‘well-funded, well-oiled and well-organized,’” he said.

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Turning point

Said ABKD: “The 2022 elections are a turning point in our nation’s political history. We are not just facing an unprecedented amount of misleading and malicious propaganda, but [also] the continued threat of corruption and human rights violations, and the possible return of dictatorship.”

Antonio Umali, dean of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines’ College of Political Science and Public Administration, said one of the network’s projects was the production of materials focused on voter education.

Umali said the materials were intended to raise awareness and understanding of the elections, to provide guidance on choosing the best candidate, and to encourage the readers to be vigilant for possible election fraud.

He said ABKD would reach out to students, parents and community members to advance the campaign for voter education.

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TAGS: #VotePH2022, 2022 elections, ABKD, Akademya at Bayan Laban sa Disimpormasyon at Dayaan, disinformation, electoral fraud, fact-checking candidates, revisionists
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