• Even before the candidates filed their certificates of candicacy, fake news to cast doubt on their intention to run for office had already been going around social media
• After the official filing of COCs, more fake news appeared, some manipulating images, others stating information that was not true
• Here’s some of the fake news that appeared and then faded
The election campaign season has not yet officially started but stories, photos and videos casting doubt or attacks on a candidate’s character is flooding social media.
Since netizens seem to find entertainment value in the overflowing information on the odd, the ugly, and the weird part of human nature — sharing it to friends and enemies has made fake news proliferate the social media landscape.
We looked back at the days prior to the deadline of the filing of Certificate of Candidacy to check on what fake news had been thrown to startle or shame candidates.
The Anti-Fake News Act 2017 defines fake news as the malicious creation and distribution of false information.
Here’s a few we found from social media:
Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, who was first to announce his plan to run for president last September, raised concerns about fake news when a text message presidential survey was conducted during the same month.
According to a Manila Bulletin report, Lacson was left out of the poll. The spokesperson of Lacson's Partido Reporma Ashley Acedillo said the "survey" seemed to be part of a "mind-conditioning" scheme to make people believe that Lacson will not run.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson
(Manila Bulletin file photo)
In November, Lacson highlighted that fake news and vote-buying will be the top threats for the May 2022 elections.
More than a week after the filing deadline of COCs, videos and articles were also shared by several netizens about Vice President Leonor "Leni" Robredo's "disqualification" from the 2022 elections.
According to a video by Cyber posting Philippines on Facebook, Robredo had been disqualified after receiving foreign donations for her presidential campaign. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) responded to this via Twitter, saying that it's false information.
A few days later, Robredo's camp denied reports claiming that they were giving away "caravan kits" during the volunteer-driven nationwide motorcade. The false report said kits that were distributed contained a P100 bill, a snack bar, campaign stickers, pink face masks, and a letter encouraging recipients to vote for her.
To address this, Robredo's Spokesman Lawyer Barry Gutierrez shared a video of the kit along with a caption stating that the report was not true.
After more than a week, DZRH station manager Cesar Chavez apologized to Robredo for a false radio report that said cash was given to participants.
“Mali ang report ng DZRH, paumanhin po VP @lenirobredo at sa iyong mga supporter sa Northern Samar (DZRH’s report is erroneous, apologies Vice President Leni Robredo and to your supporters in Northern Sammar),” Chavez tweeted along with a picture containing his lengthy explanation.
Vice President Leni Robredo (Manila Bulletin file photo)
In another report by Manila Bulletin, Robredo tagged as fake news a photo showing a large crowd of her supporters circulating on social media pages. The image was that of the Black Nazarene procession on Jones Bridge before the pandemic. It was edited and highlighted with pink, representing the Vice President's campaign color.
Edited version of Black Nazarene procession on Jones Bridge. (Photo from Vice President Leni Robredo’s Facebook page tagged as fake)/
Former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio's supporters had also condemned a manipulated image of the tandem's 'unity ride.'
Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (Manila Bulletin file photo)
The photo showed thousands of Marcos followers in red shirts gathered along the Kalinga National Road in Lagangilang crossing the Don Mariano Marcos Bridge. Later, the image appeared on Facebook with the hashtag Laban Leni 2022, Ilocos. And the shirts of supporters were edited from red to pink.
Fake news (Pixabay free photo)
Penalty for individuals disseminating fake news
According to Anti-Fake News Act 2017, any person who maliciously offers, publishes, distributes, or circulates false information that may cause panic, division, chaos, violence, or hate among people or groups will be punished by the law.
A person found guilty of disseminating fake news will be punished by a fine ranging from P100,000 to P5 million and imprisonment ranging from one to five years.
A person who aids a person guilty of the crime will be liable for a fine ranging from P50,000 to P3 million and imprisonment ranging from six months to three years.
How to spot fake news?
The Manila Bulletin advised ways to spot false information. First, find the source of the news; check if the publisher is affiliated with established news sources or small-time bloggers sharing personal sentiments on a specific social media page; pay attention to the headline or content. Fake news are usually not written well, with many grammatical errors, worded to elicit anger or hate.
Readers should also verify the information they read by cross-checking it with other sources for accuracy and credibility, among others.