A pioneering fact-checking collaboration project was re-launched Monday ahead of the May 2022 elections, with several members of the academe, media and civil society professing their commitment to fight disinformation.
Tsek.ph, spearheaded by the University of the Philippines and initially launched in 2019 with three academic institutions and 11 media organizations, sports a new look and a bigger alliance of at least 21 members. The initiative is backed by the International Fact-Checking Network.
In his keynote speech, IFCN director Baybars Orsek, said fact-checking holds the powerful accountable and contributes to creating a more informed citizenry.
“Fact checking today is at the intersection of accountability journalism and technology, serving the public true, multi-layered publishing,” he said.
“Initiatives like Tsek.ph are vital and necessary. Especially now, when an enlightened Filipino citizenry is key to our elections so that we are correctly informed about who and what the candidates running for national and local positions stand for,” said Dr. Elenia Pernia, UP Diliman vice president for public affairs.
Tsek.ph’s site contains results of fact checks on election-related claims making the rounds of social media. These claims unfairly malign some candidates, boost the stock of others, causing confusion and divisiveness, and ignorance.
The collaboration is crucial especially since those who deliberately and maliciously push disinformation are many and well-organized.
This election is a particularly high-stakes one, given the state of our country in terms of the economy.
Alas, there is a significant portion of the population that, because they are lazy, ignorant, or do not know any better, eagerly lap up as true claims presented through social media sites.
This is the “truth” on which they will base their decision on whom to vote for this May.
It is a truly terrifying prospect that the core of our democratic exercise could be driven by lies.
Any candidate that deliberately skews and bends the truth to suit his or her purposes does not deserve to hold public office, much less the highest position in the land. Such a candidate must be rejected.
Adopting a fact-checking mindset is a good way to ensure our democratic decisions are made logically—and ethically.