2022 Philippine Elections

YouTube videos on Marcos Jr. designed to win him the election – study

Renzo Arceta

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YouTube videos on Marcos Jr. designed to win him the election – study
A study found that narratives about the Marcos Jr. range from endearing him to viewers to discrediting the upcoming 2022 presidential elections, all for the sake of putting a Marcos back in Malacañang

MANILA, Philippines – A study by the Far Eastern University (FEU) Public Policy Center looked into the narratives of election-related “alternative videos” on YouTube. They found that Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has the highest number of estimated results, with content aimed to endear him to the masses, attack the other candidates and their supporters, and even discredit the elections. 

The study is entitled, “Narratives and Tactics in Alternative Online Videos” and was authored by Justin Muyot, a technical consultant with the FEU. In his study, Muyot coined the term “alternative videos” to refer to videos that are produced by content creators, in particular those non-traditional media organizations. These videos also contain information that runs counter to mainstream information. One example are vloggers who produce video commentaries on current events. 

His study had the following findings:

  • Marcos has the highest number of estimated “alternative videos” on YouTube. 
  • There is a conscious effort to center the online discussion on Marcos. Muyot refers to this as the “BBM-verse” which aims to accomplish three things: (1) to shame other candidates for criticizing Marcos and his supporters, (2) to endear Marcos to the public, and (3) to sow discord between the other presidential candidates. 
  • Alternative videos also aim to discredit other candidates and even the electoral process. 
Where the war is being waged

According to YouTube’s report, there are 45 million adult viewers on their platform, the equivalent of 68% of the registered voters in the 2022 elections. This represents a huge opportunity for campaigning. The lower barrier of entry for video production and publishing has made it an attractive avenue for vloggers. 

The study found that there is a clear spike in the YouTube search activity for presidential candidates coinciding with the election. Muyot documented that the first spike coincided with the release of one-on-one interviews by talk show host Boy Abunda early this year. 

Muyot’s study also found that Marcos ranks first among presidential candidates in terms of the estimated number of alternative videos on the platform, and third in terms of alternative videos having more than 100,000 views– the first being Manny Pacquiao. 

Welcome to the BBM-verse

Muyot reviewed these videos containing more than 100,000 views and found that there is a concerted effort to anchor discussions around Marcos. 

These alternative videos typically aim to shame other candidates for criticizing Marcos and his supporters, to endear Marcos to the public, and to sow discord between the other presidential candidates. 

The first aim is accomplished through clickbait titles that typically contain the word “pahiya” (shamed) coupled with the candidates who openly criticized Marcos, with video text graphics trying to shame the candidate. Muyot cites that victims of videos like these have been presidential candidates Leody De Guzman, Manny Pacquiao, and Leni Robredo. 

The second kind of alternative video directly tries to appeal to voters. These kinds of videos are typically characterized by hyperbolic titles of Marcos being deeply moved by his family and followers, coupled with the regular interactions of Marcos and his son with their followers along their motorcades. These videos have also tried to paint Marcos and his family as victims rather than perpetrators and beneficiaries of Martial Law abuses. 

The third kind of video tries to pit the candidates and their running mates against one another. Muyot’s study cites videos that focused on the rift between Ping Lacson and his running mate Tito Sotto.

All paths lead to BBM

Muyot’s study also identified that alternative videos also discredited scenarios that did not favor Marcos’ bid for the presidency. These included direct attacks on the other presidential candidates. These videos range from dangerous claims that red-tag presidential candidates to petty ridicule. 

Some videos also aim to discredit the electoral process, thereby allowing only space for a Marcos victory in the coming elections – with all other outcomes surely being the result of a failed election. One such video even went so far as to claim the involvement of the United State’s Central Intelligence Agency in Philippine elections since the 1950s. 

In closing, Muyot calls for greater attention to these alternative videos. He proposes a path forward that is centered on supporting and building communities around content creators that complement mainstream information and add value to public discourse.

You can read Justin Muyot’s study here on Rappler. –Rappler.com

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