Senator Maria Josefa Imelda Marcos has questioned why social media giant Facebook tapped as its fact-checkers two media organizations that are critical of the Duterte administration.
“‘Yong laging daing ng ating administrasyon kung bakit ang fact-checker na ginagamit ng Facebook eh ‘yong dalawang tanyag na media na bumabatikos kay President Duterte sa kada kilos, halos. ‘Yong Rappler at ‘yong Vera Files, bakit itinatag ‘yan bilang gatekeeper, ika nga,” Marcos raised during a hearing of the Senate electoral reforms committee on Wednesday, January 20.
(The repeated complaint of our administration is why Facebook chose as fact-checker the two organizations known to be critical of President Duterte’s almost every actions. Rappler and Vera Files, why were they chosen as Facebook’s gatekeepers).”
“So I think the ‘politicizing’ question becomes very, very confused,” she added.
The committee was discussing the possible mechanisms on preventing potential foreign interference in the Philippine’s elections thru social media.
Jonathan Ong, an academic researcher and professor at the University of Massachusetts, said while some Facebook fact-checkers in other countries have become “more explicit” about their political biases, “we also have to recognize that journalists and fact checkers have done incredible work” in correcting false claims and misinformation on social media.
He cited the “fact-checking and keeping politicians honest with regard to COVID[-19], with regard to medical misinformation.”
“So they have done a lot in terms of deepening our understanding around that,” Ong said as stressed the need for a “multi-stakeholder approach” involving the academe as well as journalists to help address misinformation.
Marcos quickly clarified: “I’m not saying that we don’t need fact-checkers, we absolutely require them.”
In April 2018, Facebook tapped Rappler and Vera Files as its third-party fact-checking organizations “to better identify and reduce the reach of false news that people share on [its] platform”.
The media organizations were tasked to review and verify news stories and counter false information on Facebook. Both are members of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) of journalism institute Poynter.