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2019 Gather Award in Engaged Journalism, Project finalist

#FactsMatterPH

About the Project

#FactsMatterPH is a project that combines Rappler’s fact-checking efforts and data-driven investigations on social media and disinformation with community engagement to help raise awareness and foster discussions on the nature of disinformation and its impact on society as well as to galvanize action against this modern day information malady.

Content from this project – including stories, relevant updates, and fact check pieces are now consolidated in the microsite “Media, Society, and Digital Transformation,” which aims to inform readers about the nature of disinformation online and how it affects media and democratic societies.

The project combines the use of data gathered by Rappler through the Sharktank, a tool it developed for monitoring publicly available content posted on public groups and pages on Facebook, and data from Rappler’s fact check project to gain more insight on how falsehoods are circulated online by disinformation agents on social media.

Key stories published include a story on attacks against the press which documented how the repeated use of a coined term: “presstitute,” and other related derogatory terms have successfully undermined the Philippine media and made people exposed to social media less trusting of the press in the two years of the Duterte administration.

The analysis of the networks of ‘spammy Facebook take down of ‘spammy’ pages showed that there were pages belonging to the same network and exhibiting similar inauthentic behavior were not yet taken down. These networks included pages owned by key public officials and candidates in the 2019 elections.

The package also includes stories examining a dubious website which have previously posted hoax content. Curiously, by examining data on the use of the term “experts” by this site, Rappler found links between disinformation networks in the Philippines and key account which figured in a US report on Russian disinformation. This observation is set against a backdrop of friendlier political ties between the Philippines and Russia.

Insights from these stories are shared through roadshows and workshops which aim to educate the youth across the country about the nature of social media, how it is exploited and used in disinformation, and the fact checking process. Since we began doing the roadshows in June 2018, we’ve engaged almost 2,000 students, campus journalists, and youth leaders from 8 universities in these workshops

To continue engagement after these roadshows and workshops, attendees are invited to join our Facebook group, Fact-checking in the Philippines, where members alert us – and each other – on dubious claims they see online.

During the Philippines’ midterm elections in 2019, we worked with 20 citizen journalists who attended our previous workshops and roadshows. We also partnered with 3 academic institutions and 11 other news publications to check election-related claims circulating online or made by candidates.

Around 12% or 152 of the false or misleading claims in our study were crowdsourced from people who have either participated in these events or responded to our online call to email us anything suspicious that they detect on the web.