UP College of Mass Communication fights COVID-19 disinformation on media

UP  fights COVID-19 disinformation
FactRakers fact-checked a phishing site claim that Angel Locsin has tested positive for the novel coronavirus after setting up various fundraisers for COVID-19 response efforts. Photo from FactRakers.

The University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP CMC) Journalism Department is fighting against COVID-19 in the best way it knows how – by marshaling its fact-checking team to expose disinformation and verify COVID-19 information on the media.

The fact-checking project called FactRakers has been exposing viral posts on social media and mobile chatrooms, such as allegations of coronavirus infections, manipulated photos, misleading quotes, and even false claims on COVID-19 cures.

The FactRakers reports on COVID-19-related information found on its website, Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s Fact Check Explorer, began when the Enhanced Community Quarantine was enforced on Metro Manila and the whole of Luzon island in mid-March 2020.

FactRakers initially adopted the ratings started by Tsek.ph, the inter-university and news media collaborative project to fact-check claims during the midterm elections of 2019.

The FactRakers ratings are:

  • ACCURATE: The statement/claim is demonstrably factual and true.
  • FALSE: The statement/claim is demonstrably contrary to available facts.
  • MISLEADING: The statement/claim gives a vague or different impression.
  • NEEDS CONTEXT: The statement/claim needs more facts or clarification because it may be taken out of context.
  • NO BASIS: The statement/claim cannot be verified or fact-checked.

​Its website pledges, “FactRakers is committed to continuing this tradition by adhering to the standards and principles of fact-checking set by the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter. It hopes to expand its pool of fact-checkers beyond the university’s boundaries and instill a fact-checking mindset in more Filipinos.”

The UP report says the FactRakers began in 2019 as part of the Journalism Seminar course on fact-checking and won the special projects category of the Philippine Journalism Research Conference in early March.

The FactRakers started as an initiative of UP Diliman Journalism professor Yvonne T. Chua that traces its beginnings as a Journalism Ethics class activity in 2014.

The class project that successfully conducted fact-checking during the 2016 general elections was adopted by media nonprofit VERA Files. It was eventually adopted as a full-semester seminar course offered to journalism majors in the schoolyear 2017-18.

CHECK OUT the FactRakers website and SEND Fighting! cheers to the UP Journalism team for sifting through falsehoods on media.

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Angie Quadra-Balibay
Angie is a self-confessed reformed news critic who vows she has finally found infinite value in delivering the good news. She teaches students of all ages how to make the important interesting for audiences across media platforms.