Fighting disinformation

Fact-checking needs to ‘become a mindset, a lifestyle among Filipinos’ – expert

Lorenz Pasion

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Fact-checking needs to ‘become a mindset, a lifestyle among Filipinos’ – expert
Experts at the Philippine Fact Checking Summit stress the need for the public and the youth to learn to evaluate and assess online information to help tilt the balance against disinformation

MANILA, Philippines – Panelists of the Philippine Fact Checking Summit on Friday, June 30, highlighted the need for a out a “whole-of-society approach” to better fight disinformation.

University of the Philippines associate professor Yvonne Chua told the summit’s participants that to do this, media and information literacy, research, and legislation must be included in the fight against disinformation.

“It’s ‘unfair’ for fact checkers to fight disinformation alone,” Chua said.

The professor, also a project leader of collaborative fact-checking project Tsek.ph, said that fact-checking should be more ingrained in the daily lives of Filipinos.

“We would like fact-checking to become a mindset, a lifestyle among Filipinos,” Chua said. 

Other panelists who attended the summit also called on the public to make fact checking a part of their daily lives. 

PressOne.ph associate editor Rommel Lopez stressed on the need to make fact checking “mainstream” and should not just be limited to just being taught in schools. 

“We should all be involved in fact checking….The discipline of fact-checking should be learned by all newsrooms and campus journalists,” Lopez said. 

Rappler head of digital strategy Gemma Mendoza highlighted the volume of false information that is being produced and amplified at a pace that’s difficult for just fact-checkers to handle.

“We are calling on social media influencers to use their influence for fact-checking,” Mendoza said. 

Jennifer Aquino, managing editor of Probe Productions Inc., admits that fact checkers cannot fight disinformation on their own and should enlist the help of the youth.

Lopez, Mendoza, and Aquino were panelists in the summit in a discussion on the the challenges of fact checking in the country. 

A growing community

Panelists in the summit said that unlike the public, the fact-checking community in the Philippines has seen growth in the recent years.

In her plenary talk in the summit, Chua and other panelists also talked about the growing community of fact checkers in the country. In her presentation, Chua showed the new members of the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN) in the Philippines: MindaNews, PressOne.ph, and Probe. Prior to the new additions, only Rappler and Vera Files are members of the IFCN. 

However, Mendoza said that although the fact checking community in the Philippines is growing, the challenges that it faces grow as well.

“We are really happy that the number of fact-checkers are increasing. But at the same time, the challenges are increasing. The distribution space for news information is actually shrinking,” Mendoza said. Mendoza cited artificial intelligence (AI) as a potential challenge for fact checkers in the near future, which may make it even easier to produce false content.

AI was also discussed by Meta officials Kaitlin McCulley and Alice Budisatrijo in Global Fact 10, an annual event on fact-checking hosted by the IFCN, held from June 28 to 30. The officials said Meta is now looking for experts to “address the challenges” in AI.

Aside from AI, Vera Files journalist Nica Rhiana Hanopol also said that repeat disinformation sharers “pose a threat to fact-checker’s work,” with “sustainability and harassment” further adding to challenges faced by the fact-checking community. 

The Philippine Fact Checking Summit is organized by Break The Fake Movement and Internews that aims to explore the role of influencers in combating disinformation and recognizing achievements in countering fake news. 

According to Break The Fake Movement, the summit is also a “local adaptation of the annual Global Fact Conference by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN).” – Rappler.com

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Lorenz Pasion

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Lorenz Pasion

Lorenz Pasion is a researcher at Rappler and a member of its fact-check team that debunks false claims that spread on social media.