MANILA, Philippines – An analysis done by the University of the Philippines (UP) Journalism Department criticized the recently filed “anti-fake news” bill, saying it does not fully address the problem of disinformation.
The department’s Jake Soriano and Yvonne Chua presented the analysis on Friday, September 13, at UP Diliman’s GT-Toyota Asian Center.
They analyzed February to May 2019 midterm election data from Tsek.ph, a collaborative fact checking effort among news groups and the academe. Rappler was a partner of Tsek.ph, along with ABS-CBN, Baguio Midland Courier, CLTV 36, DZUP 1602, Interkasyon, Mindanews, The Philippine Star, Philstar.com, Probe Productions, Vera Files, Ateneo de Manila University, De la Salle University, and the University of the Philippines.
Their data showed 42% of the claims fact checked during the elections came from candidates themselves. User-generated content on social media represented 54%, while the remaining 4% were claims made by other public figures.
Some of these claims were made on documents, like Imee Marcos’ claim that she graduated from Princeton University and the UP College of Law. Other claims were spread through TV, websites, and campaign ads.
Not all the claims checked were outright false either, as 16% needed context, 14% were misleading, and 2% had no basis.
“The ‘false content’ bill in the Senate promises to be tough on the creators of these but does not seem to address the matter of disinformation being a spectrum,” Soriano and Chua said in a release.
Speaking to the press after the event, UP Journalism Department’s Diosa Labiste said the department is against regulating what could be construed as “fake news,” because it could be used against free expression.
“The fluidity of media platforms and also the forms of disinformation that are evolving could also mean that we cannot play catch-up. The law cannot play catch-up,” she said.
Instead, the department advocates for media news literacy and fact checking to fight disinformation on social media.
The bill has been opposed by Human Rights Watch, saying that if passed, the bill “would make a government department the arbiter of permissible online material.” (READ: Human Rights Watch slams Sotto’s fake news bill)
Under the bill, the Department of Justice Cybercrime Office can issue a rectification order, a takedown order, or a block access order for online content they deem false. – Rappler.com