Even though I had a lot on my plate as a faculty member in a university, I still registered for Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program.
My hugot for registering was my constant encounters with two of my churchmates, who would often drop dubious claims into our group’s chat box.
I would wonder why there were still people like them, who didn’t seem to bother with the truth, and who would just use the excuse “to each his own” and turn a deaf ear whenever I tried to tell them the facts.
I have had a few slips of my own. I used to be the type of Facebook user who would share posts instantly on my Newsfeed if they sounded good to me. I would do this so frequently, the gap between my shared posts would be just a minute or two, and some of my friends would even point this pattern out to me. But that’s now in the past.
In my experience, fact-checking is not an easy job.
While I was waiting for my turn to update our mentors on our progress two weeks in, I struggled over how to tell them that I still hadn’t found anything to fact-check. I ended up telling them jokingly, “Ako yata pinaka-kulelat dito, ma’am,” and shrunk in my seat.
Fact-checking takes time.
I wound up surfing the internet in the wee hours of the morning to really give time for it. But then I finally found a claim on Crowdtangle that was fact-checkable. The claim was in a video, and it was painful to have to sit through the video’s entirety – to listen, to take note, and to research.
The process was like digging a tunnel. It took so long. But I am glad that I went through the process, because it made me more informed and confident. It was tiring, but in the end it was all worth it, knowing that I had corrected a wrong.
I didn’t expect that the second claim I would fact-check would come from the same person. And when I was writing my second article, I saw hints on that person’s Facebook profile that that they had even moved to a different, more “fact check-proof” platform. It made me ask myself: What does success look like for a fact-checker?
(Admittedly, I had grown paranoid that the person whose claims I fact-checked would go after me or my family online or offline. I could only imagine the dangers that full-time fact-checkers and journalists face because of their jobs.)
I am still part of the chat box that triggered me to take part in Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship. I am glad for this, because from time to time some members would drop dubious claims that I could fact-check. I just had to remind myself that these people who proliferated this fake news were not my enemies, and that I had to befriend them all the more so they could see my point of view and eventually win them over to my side.
I am glad there is space for a novice fact-checker like me in Rappler; that makes me feel grateful. Fact-checking is a noble task. That said, I am motivated to to continue learning the ropes. – Rappler.com
John David Moncada is a volunteer of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program, a 5-week exclusive, hands-on training on detecting, investigating, and verifying online misinformation and disinformation.
At present, he is a faculty member of the department of Technology Communication Management at the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines, teaching subjects like Digital Activism and Intercultural Communication.