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Comelec to combat ‘fake news’ on social media

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By Minka Klaudia Tiangco

A Commission on Elections (Comelec) official said they have taken steps to combat false information being published against them on social media platforms.

Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez said in an interview that social media platforms, including Facebook, were provided with a whitelist, which will aid them in facilitating the Comelec’s request for action against “questionable” posts.

COMELEC Spokesman James Jimenez (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN)

COMELEC Spokesman James Jimenez (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN)

Jimenez added that instead of just reporting a page or a post, they will specify which part of the post is questionable and provide facts and context to prove that the information being reported is false.

“As of now, anyone can report anything. You don’t need the government to do that. But we are adding a burden on ourselves. We have committed to include in our reporting a clear indication of which part of the posts is questionable, of questionable legal standing. Second, a discussion of why it should be taken down, and third, a high degree of specificity in the report,” he said.

Jimenez clarified that the social media platforms’ community standards will still apply in the review of the posts, and they will only provide more information to prove that reports coming from the government are substantiated.

The Comelec spokesman said they decided to do this after observing that during the 2016 polls, more “fake news” appeared as the elections drew near.

He said the Comelec frequently deals with false information about the elections system.

“Pagpasok kasi ng absentee voting, pangkaraniwan diyan lumulutang ang fake news tungkol sa sistema, tungkol sa elections, kesyo ganito ang makikita, kesyo tapos na ang counting dito, panalo na si ganito (Once the absentee voting starts, the fake news that usually spreads pertains to the system and the elections itself, such as this is what one would see, and the counting of votes is already finished, and so and so candidate has already won),” he said.

“These are the fake news that we are watching out for. Why? Because number one, they aim to question the credibility of elections. Second, they are verifiably false. And third, they are deliberate to spread despite being verifiably false,” he added.

Jimenez also said that they will only deal with false information that they have involvement in and not meddle with fake news about candidates.

“We don’t care about that. Candidates can fight their own battles. We are not here to protect the interest of any candidate. If a candidate is subjected to a fake news attack, we will only intervene in so far as to set the record straight about our involvement,” he said. (With a report from Leslie Ann Aquino) #MatalinongBoto2019

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