Disinformation becomes top threat to Philippine democracy ahead of election

16/4/2022 6:50:00 PM

Most will vote based on what they have seen online.

Philippnes, Presidential Race

Most will vote based on what they have seen online.

In three weeks, Filipinos will march to polling precincts to pick their next president. Most will decide based on what they have seen online.

Robredo is trailing Marcos Jr by over 30 percentage points in the polls, but that gap is seen to be narrowing as voting day approaches.On May 9, over 65 million Filipinos will cast their ballots to choose who will succeed President Rodrigo Duterte.While television remains an information source for four in five voters, social media is now the second choice. Half of voters say they get their information from what they see on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok and similar platforms.

This state of affairs – and the hyper-partisan climate it has created – has been a windfall for Marcos Jr.Voters fed up with growing income inequality and woeful government services not only began to identify with the Marcoses' grievances, but also came to believe in the narrative that what happened in 1986 was a mistake.

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People over 50 most at risk of disinformation, media expert saysOlder people are almost twice as likely to believe disinformation being spread on social media platforms, and need more education, says a political scientist. Wrong. People over 50 have gone through the digital age since the 1980s and know the truth from the lies, fake from real, and know how to separate the wheat from the chaff. The younger generation is the one most gullible and easily influenced by fake news and scams.

Therein lies the rub.The country scored 5.In a Facebook post, the Transport Minister said that based on his own survey done on Friday (April 15) night, he found that the shops around Yong Peng had become busier compared to previous times, with many shops packed with customers.“There are some who ask me what is the rationale behind the idea of (the Umno supreme council) naming Ismail Sabri as GE15 election director and Barisan chairman.

There has been so much disinformation, gaslighting and whitewashing online that they may end up choosing a leader based on half-truths, falsehoods and fabrications, rather than on facts. Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the son and namesake of the late dictator who polls say is set to win by a landslide, has been the main beneficiary, according to researchers. In South-East Asia, Thailand ranks third after Singapore and the Philippines, who globally hold the 27th and 60th rankings respectively.Illustrating just how low the online tussle for votes has gone, a sex video that used deepfake technology to overlay the face of one of Vice-President Leni Robredo's daughters began circulating online last week. Welcome to Yong Peng," said the Ayer Hitam MP. That was not the first time her daughters were targeted.535 points in GDP per capita, 1. Robredo is trailing Marcos Jr by over 30 percentage points in the polls, but that gap is seen to be narrowing as voting day approaches. Annuar also said Ismail Sabri needs to look for the right Umno candidates who can win seats.

"It is now fairly established that disinformation has become rampant because of its power to harness emotive reactions and therefore gain more engagement from social media users," Dr Aries Arugay, a visiting fellow at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, said in a research paper.697 points in healthy life expectancy, 0. Article type: free. Half of voters in Philippines say they get their information from what they see on social media platforms. - Reuters On May 9, over 65 million Filipinos will cast their ballots to choose who will succeed President Rodrigo Duterte.321 in generosity, 0. As in 2016, when Duterte was elected, social media is playing a pivotal role. But it is even more central this time round.6 in dystopia plus residual. “This can only be achieved if Ismail Sabri leads Barisan and is GE15 election director, or he will remain a ‘bride in waiting’ whose fate rests in the hands of others.

More Filipinos – with 73 million out of some 110 million saying they have Internet access – are now turning to social media for election information. While television remains an information source for four in five voters, social media is now the second choice. The World Happiness Report is published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and compiled by a group of independent experts acting in individual capacities. Half of voters say they get their information from what they see on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok and similar platforms. Radio is at third place, with 30%, while print – a reliable platform for deep discussion of issues in a bygone era – does not even reach 1%. The data from these three years was combined to make the sample size large enough to reduce errors. Half of Filipinos who are online admit many of their decisions are informed by so-called social media influencers rather than legitimate sources such as the media and books.

This state of affairs – and the hyper-partisan climate it has created – has been a windfall for Marcos Jr. Since 1992, when they were allowed to return to the Philippines, the Marcoses have insisted they were victims of a great injustice, and that the military-backed"People Power" revolt that forced them to flee in disgrace in 1986 was nothing more than a coup by a powerful minority. That message was largely ignored through much of the two decades that followed. But as one government after another failed to deliver on the 1986 revolt's lofty promise of a First World economy, the Marcoses became relevant again. Voters fed up with growing income inequality and woeful government services not only began to identify with the Marcoses' grievances, but also came to believe in the narrative that what happened in 1986 was a mistake.

Supporters of Ferdinand Marcos Jr have been portraying his father's two-decade rule as a golden age of peace and prosperity. - AP That became clear in 2016, when Marcos Jr ran for vice-president and lost by just a slim margin to Robredo. It showed that time was on his side. Since then, Marcos Jr's handlers have been flooding social media with their own version of history which often contradicts court records, official accounts and research documents. They portray his father's two-decade rule as a golden age of peace and prosperity, and that the human rights abuses and systematic plunder of the nation's coffers by the Marcos regime never happened.

They especially targeted young voters – aged 18 to 41 – who have no memory of Marcos Sr's brutal rule under martial law from 1972 to 1983, and have been the most aggrieved over what they see as the broken promises of"People Power". This relentless barrage of propaganda has been spreading almost unchecked on Facebook, which now accounts for 70% of election-related discussions on social media. Troll operations have become adept at not just flooding social media with disinformation, but also evading fact-checkers and algorithms that look for coordinated inauthentic behaviour. The online war has only become more vicious since election season began in October last year. Vera Files, a third-party fact-checking partner of Facebook's parent firm Meta, said that out of 120 viral online posts about the elections last year, half came from Mr Marcos Jr's camp.

The most popular post was a video - seen 21.9 million times - that falsely claimed that Marcos Sr and his wife had US$68 million (S$92.2 million) in Swiss accounts earned legitimately from gold trading. Fact-checking alliance Tsek.ph said the revisionist tale has only gotten louder.

A claim by former defence minister Juan Ponce-Enrile in a Facebook video that no Marcos critic was ever jailed during martial law resurfaced in September and has since been viewed 40 million times. There were also posts about the already debunked myth that Marcos Sr was the most decorated Filipino war hero ever. Journalism professors Maria Diosa Labiste and Yvonne Chua, from Tsek.ph, said the lies, misleading claims and other forms of disinformation tend to elevate Marcos Jr and denigrate Robredo. Marcos Jr's supporters, for instance, insist on claiming that he earned a degree from Oxford, when the university itself has said he received only a special diploma.

There were also bogus endorsements from K-pop superstar Jimin of BTS and a supposed Saudi princess, and claims that former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew was both a friend and a fan of Marcos Sr. Lee had, in fact, been correctly quoted as saying:"Only in the Philippines could a leader like Ferdinand Marcos, who pillaged his country for over 20 years, still be considered for a national burial." Robredo, meanwhile, is being portrayed as dull-witted, elitist, and even a communist. Recently, she was said to have married a communist sympathiser when she was just 15, and that she displayed the devil's mark with her hand at one of her rallies. Marcos Jr is seldom targeted with lies or misleading information because his critics believe the facts themselves - that his family plundered the Philippines, that he lied about getting a degree from Oxford, that he failed to pay billions of dollars in taxes - are enough to discredit him.

Still, he insists that"fact-checkers have their own agenda". "They fact-check just one side of the story, not both sides. They're fact-checking things I supposedly said that I did not actually say. People put words into my mouth, and then say what I said was fake," he said. Robredo is trailing Mr Marcos Jr by over 30 percentage points in the polls.

- AFP An example, Marcos Jr said, were posts claiming he would make Ilocano - the dialect of his bailiwick province of Ilocos Norte - the national language, replacing Tagalog. He insists he never said that. Also, his son, Sandro, who is carving his own political career, was falsely quoted as saying that Filipino nurses and seamen working abroad should be taxed locally, in response to allegations of tax evasion against his father. It is clear that both sides have dug deep into their silos and echo chambers. Dr Arugay of the ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute blames this on the algorithms of Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and other social media platforms that inherently promote hate and toxic content because these drive Internet traffic and, ultimately, profit.

"As the algorithms of social media apps like Facebook feed users with more content that they want, to maintain or increase engagement, it is unavoidable that pernicious polarisation between the Marcos and Robredo camps will dictate the 2022 election campaign," he said. That, unfortunately, could lead Filipinos to end up with a misinformed choice rather than an informed vote. - The Straits Times/ANN Article type: free .