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MANILA, Philippines – Over 100 groups on Wednesday, January 26, assembled together to launch a project that seeks to combat disinformation ahead of the 2022 National and Local Elections.
During the launch of multi-sectoral initiative #FactsFirstPH, lawyer John Molo, trustee of the Philippine Bar Association (PBA), said the disinformation networks were designed to dehumanize people.
“We all tried to fight back. But it’s like putting out fires, while being on fire yourself. And as those of us here who have been targeted can confirm, the machine is designed to wear us down. To dehumanize us. To make us feel powerless,” Molo said.
According to Molo, by convening various groups that will provide different ways to combat disinformation, the people’s democratic exercise would be protected.
“Our hope is that through this united front, none of us will feel powerless against disinformation networks and their agents. Our aim is to guarantee safe spaces so that truth-tellers -like you- will continue to ask tough questions. Our goal is to insulate the democratic exercise from the taint of disinformation,” the lawyer added.
On Wednesday, groups from the media, civil society, business, research, legal sectors, and the Church launched #FactsFirstPH. In partnership with Google News Initiative and Meedan, the project assembled various sectors to promote truth in public spaces and demand accountability from those who perpetrate lies.
Issa Liponhay, senior data scientist from the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), said that in fighting lies, experts must seek each other. PBA and AIM are both part of the project.
“However, we cannot fight disinformation with research alone. It is critical that we step outside of our laboratories and reach out to other experts – journalists, lawyers, and fact-checkers to put our analyses into real action,” Liponhay said.
According to Liponhay, the #FactsFirstPH aims to achieve the following:
- Tackle the biggest problems plaguing the information space
- Make the public understand the complexities of disinformation
- Dare to ask and answer questions that others may not
- Harmonize evidence from the ground to present novel insights
- Make everyone listen to insights that the data presents
How this project works
The #FactsFirstPH will adopt a four-layer mechanism to address disinformation.
On the first layer, the fact-checking sector will monitor social media for false claims. The sector, consisting of at least 14 media organizations including Rappler and ABS-CBN, will produce fact-checks.
Around 60 groups and coalitions compose the mesh, which is the second layer of the project. After media groups produce fact-check pieces, the mesh will amplify the stories and will organize campaigns against false claims.
After groups and coalitions amplify fact-check reports, at least five research teams and laboratories from the media and the academe will produce analysis reports about the disinformation and false claims.
On the fourth and last layer, legal and rights groups like PBA and Free Legal Assistance Group will demand accountability by monitoring or documenting attacks. The groups will also act as a deterrence against these attacks and perpetrators of disinformation.
Check out the full list of participating organizations here: