Fact-checkers call preelection fake news a ‘firehose of falsehoods’
MANILA, Philippines — Over 65 million Filipino voters will be heading to the poll booths on Monday, after being inundated by an unprecedented amount of fake news spread out across multiple platforms and formats akin to a “firehose of falsehoods,” according to Tsek.ph — an independent fact-checking coalition.
Even more alarming, Tsek.ph noted, is the increased proliferation of falsehoods that targeted the Commission on Elections, the Catholic Church and the media for their supposed role in perpetrating electoral fraud that can steal the election away from the current front-runner, Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
“If the public has little confidence in these institutions, the electoral process would be less credible because these institutions play crucial roles on Election Day,” said Tsek.ph conveners Yvonne Chua, Diosa Labiste, and Felipe Gonzales.
In its second analysis of disinformation across multiple social media platforms, Tsek.ph — a nationwide coalition of universities, civic and legal groups, and media outfits that fact-check election-related misinformation—said it “tracked a high volume of multipronged and multiplatform attacks on selected targets using traditional media and communities of sharers on social media to circulate posts and false narratives.”
Specifically, it targeted the top two front-runners in the presidential race: Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Leni Robredo, as well as allies and groups associated with their candidacy.
Since campaign season began, the two had been at the center of a so-called “firehose strategy” meant to inundate consumers with messages peddling falsehoods and fictions, said Tsek.ph convenors Chua, Labiste, and Gonzales.
In their first analysis, which covered 200 fact checks from November 2021 to early February, much of the disinformation they tracked sought to put down Robredo and uplift Marcos Jr.’s tainted image.
For the second analysis, which covered 685 fact checks from February to end of April, Tsek.ph flagged several content seeking to “sow confusion in the conduct of voting, which could undermine the results of the election,” the conveners said.
What is even more significant is “how supporters of the Marcos-Duterte tandem have succeeded in further boosting narratives in their favor through an increase in the volume of negative messages against Robredo,” the conveners said.
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