Social media giants urged to fight disinformation on Eleksyon 2022

By GISELLE OMBAY, GMA News

Published December 22, 2021 6:48pm

Ahead of Eleksyon 2022, the newly-launched group Movement Against Disinformation (MAD) asked social media giants Google, YouTube, TikTok and Meta to ramp up their efforts in combating disinformation on their platforms.

In a press conference on Wednesday, MAD convenor Antonio La Vina said his group intends to closely coordinate with these social technology companies to ensure that measures are in place and are implemented to combat the proliferation of false information in their platforms.

MAD said Google and YouTube should work to improve their enforcement of policies against disinformation by engaging more with fact checkers and supporting Philippine journalism.

“Websites that spread disinformation should be banned from Search and YouTube creators spreading electoral disinformation and historical revisionism should not be allowed to monetize their YouTube channels and should be removed, if not pushed down to be unnoticed in the search engine,” the group said in its letter.

MAD also asked the platforms to be transparent and disclose the full criteria on how to flag content as disinformation during the election period.

“Archives of flagged and deleted content should be collated and made public, revealing the nature of removed content and the identity of the accounts that post and share them,” the letter added.

The group also said that the officials of Google and YouTube should meet with the media, civil society, and the academe to discuss how they plan to tackle election-related disinformation in the country.

On December 12, Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesperson James Jimenez said that the poll body will be teaming up with YouTube to verify candidates’ official channels for Eleksyon 2022 to improve accountability.

Google also earlier announced its plan to temporarily stop accepting election-related advertisements, noting that this would help prevent online trolls from misleading the public.

As for TikTok, MAD noted that since it was the most downloaded entertainment app in the Philippines in 2021, the platform must do more to protect the users, particularly the youth, from false content and dubious accounts during the elections.

Thus, it asked TikTok to replicate in the Philippines the measures that the platform undertook during the US 2020 elections wherein it removed false or manipulated election-related videos and tagged some as “not eligible for recommendation.”

Tiktok back then also launched an in-app voting guide in the US, which MAD wanted for the Philippines as well, translated in Filipino and other regional languages.

MAD also requested TikTok to partner with credible and independent fact-checking groups in the country to flag election-related content for disinformation.

“You can be entertained by a one-minute TikTok, but if the next six years are going to be based on a series of lies, deception, misinformation, then a lot of people will be affected,” Fact Check Philippines’ John Albert Pagunsan said, reminding the youth and the first-time voters.

On November 17, MAD also urged Meta or Facebook to counter disinformation in their platform for the election period.

This was answered by Meta, enumerating its initiatives it is implementing to “better fight elections interference, reduce misinformation, and combat voter interference” in the Philippines.

This includes the development of a risk-mitigation plan for the 2022 elections which focuses on the organized use of disinformation campaigns, and the expansion of the Facebook Ads Library to the Philippines to capture all ads related to the elections.

Meta said it is also working to stop campaigns that seek to manipulate public debates in its apps. It also has features that make people know who is behind the news and ads they see on Facebook.

Comelec also said on December 13, it will work with Facebook and Twitter for the verification of Eleksyon 2022 candidates’ accounts as part of steps to fight disinformation and misinformation.

However, La Vi?a said that these steps should be complemented by being transparent about the sources of funds for the candidates’ social media campaigns.

“What we want the Comelec also to be able to do is to identify the funding for all the social media campaigns that are to be conducted on behalf of candidates so they could all be accountable,” he said.–LDF, GMA News

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