TWO important dates stood out last week. The Philippines connected to the internet for the first time on March 29, 1994. Twenty-eight years later, how the internet has changed the sociopolitical landscape in the country is far from ideal. Observing International Fact-Checking Day on April 2 is all about setting the record straight and protecting the public from misinformation or “fake news.” As we mark the 28th anniversary of the Philippine internet, the #FactsFirstPH coalition reiterates its commitment to protect the facts and exact accountability from those who harm the public sphere with lies. The fact-checking layer with over 130 partners has produced almost 400 fact-checks since it started this initiative in January this year. Being part of the coalition, my participation is amplifying the truth by sharing at least three to five fact-checks daily. I repurpose the stories into a short video form on TikTok, YouTube shorts, Instagram reels, Facebook or Twitter video in that order of priority.
No one would appreciate the fact-checking videos on TikTok as expressed by a content strategist to me. “You will be surprised,” I corrected him. I receive many comments like “there should be more like you. There are so many who are blinded by lies and would be enlightened by the truth.” A student appreciated the fact check, claiming he got speechless when his professor shared fake news. When the fact check is about the disinformation disseminated through social media platforms of presidential bet Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, supporters get outraged. “Why am I destroying Marcos, Jr.?” they demanded. If I cite Rappler or ABS-CBN as the news source, the more I receive heated comments. They close their minds to the truth. I explain that these two media organizations deliver the news and that they need to check the primary source for its news content.
“You should file a case against Marcos Jr.” “You are a paid hack.” “Don’t spread fake news” or “You are too old to be on TikTok” are just a few of the sneering comments. Two of my TikTok videos received over 3,000 comments in one day. In order to understand their views, I went through each one of them. While the videos gained more likes than the comments, I could perceive that the vicious ones are driven by coordinated inauthentic behavior or coordinated influence behavior. I mention this because the comments followed similar lines, like they were copying from a script. Most of the users had less than five followers, in private mode and with no videos. Despite the toxic comments, I get inspired by the undecided. The fact-checking made them consider other candidates outside of Marcos Jr.
The International Fact-checking day is “not a single event but a rallying cry for more facts — and fact-checking — in politics, journalism and everyday life.” Those with vested interests must not be allowed to take over the internet and propagate fake news relentlessly. While the internet has shaped politics, business, and culture in dramatic ways, evil forces have also used it to cultivate a monstrous creature: disinformation. They have weaponized the internet’s pervasive and near-omnipresent character to entrench disinformation, creating an alternate reality. Distorting historical facts.
On the 28th anniversary of the Philippine internet, my colleagues at #FactsFirstPH circulated a statement that we need to protect the facts.
“The victims of subverted track records and rewritten histories propagated online are the public. The tool once heralded to facilitate interconnectedness is now used by some to divide, conquer and spread mass deception. The fight against disinformation has become more urgent, with several candidates in the upcoming elections reaping the rewards of disinformation. At this important juncture, the future of the country is at stake. We enjoin all truth-loving Filipinos to do their share in taking back the internet for intelligent, fact-based and compelling discourse. Together, let us fight back forces that are bent on continually deceiving internet users and peddling lies. It is every Filipino’s solemn duty to be a vanguard of truth.”
Less than 40 days to go before election day. Continue to spread factual information to your friends, family and loved ones. What are you doing to fight for truth?
Noemi Lardizabal-Dado is a Content Strategist with over 16 years experience in blogging, content management, citizen advocacy and media literacy and over 26 years in web development. Otherwise known as @MomBlogger on social media, she believes in making a difference in the lives of her children by advocating social change for social good.
She is a co-founder and a member of the editorial board of Blog Watch . She is a resource speaker on media literacy, social media , blogging, digital citizenship, good governance, transparency, parenting, women’s rights and wellness, and cyber safety.
Her personal blogs such as aboutmyrecovery.com (parenting) , pinoyfoodblog.com (recipes), techiegadgets.com (gadgets) and benguetarabica.coffee keep her busy outside of Blog Watch.
I am an advocate. I am NOT neutral. I will NOT give social media mileage to members of political clans, epal, a previous candidate for the same position and those I believe are a waste of taxpayers' money.
I do not support or belong to any political party. I was part of accredited media covering the Office of the Vice President and Leni Robredo as she ran as a presidential aspirant in the 2022 National and local elections.
On August 5, 2021, YouTube announced that I was selected as one of 50 Program participants of its Creator Program for Independent Journalists
She was a Senior Consultant for ALL media engagements for the PCOO-led Committee on Media Affairs & Strategic Communications (CMASC) under the ASEAN 2017 National Organizing Council from January 4 -July 5, 2017. Having been an ASEAN advocate since 2011, she has written extensively about the benefits of the ASEAN community and as a region of opportunities on Blog Watch and aboutmyrecovery.com.
Organization affiliation includes Consortium on Democracy and Disinformation
Updated June 6, 2022