Filtered By: Topstories

Inciting to violence, political disinformation biggest concerns on Facebook ahead of Eleksyon 2022 —firm

An independent research agency has flagged Facebook over posts that allegedly incite violence on human rights defenders and spread political disinformation months before the Philippines hold its local and national elections.

In a slide show presentation Thursday, Article One, through its co-founder and principal Chloe Poynton, said "misinformation and disinformation were the most widely reported concerns from both stakeholders and Meta users," with 87% of respondents reporting personally seeing "political misinformation" on Facebook. 

Meta is the parent company of Facebook and Instagram and the one that commissioned the HRIA.

“The two key types of misinformation/ disinformation-related to political disinformation, so we heard that Facebook was used as a key platform to promote political disinformation during the 2016 and 2019 elections, and that there are concerns that this pattern would repeat itself in 2022,” Poynton said.

Red-tagging, health misinformation

The HRIA also took note of the “harassment” and “incitement of violence" that took place on the platform, including the alleged involvement of government officials, against human rights defenders and drug suspects, as well as the "red-tagging” of human rights defenders.

Another 74% of the respondents, meanwhile, reported personally seeing "health misinformation.

“The second is health misinformation, and obviously this became a very big issue not just in the Philippines but globally during the COVID-19 pandemic, but in the Philippines this concern actually predated COVID-19 with misinformation about Dengvaxia, potentially contributing to a plummet from 82 percent in 2015 to 21 percent in 2018 in vaccine confidence among Filipino parents,” Poynton said.

Meta commissioned the HRIA into the impacts of its products in the Philippines "to identify and mitigate human rights risks, and to inform our future strategy." The report was conducted based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).


While Facebook use has the aforementioned risks, Poynton's presentation also showed that the use of the social media platform in the Philippines has some advantages when it comes to the state of human rights although it has certain “risks” as well.

According to the HRIA,  Facebook has advanced human rights with benefits related to freedom of expression and association, the right to participate in government, rights of access to information and education, and freedom from discrimination.

The HRIA urged Meta to address a number of issues, including the alleged misuse of Facebook to spread misinformation and disinformation as it "may contribute to adverse impacts for a range of rights, including the rights to information, and to security of person."

One key recommendation was for the company to develop a "risk-mitigation plan" for the 2022 elections, focusing especially on the organized use of disinformation campaigns.

According to Facebook's human rights director Miranda Sissons, Meta is "constantly working to evolve our products, policies and processes to address the risks identified in the report."

Meta also said it has made it a "high priority" to invest in risk mitigation and preparation efforts for the 2022 Philippine elections.

Apart from designating a working group to prepare for the elections, Meta said it has launched a civic education campaign in partnership with the Commission on Elections and various organizations; conducted training on its Community Standards; and held roundtables with civil society.

The company also cited the launch of its "Misleading Manipulated Video policy," as well as the expansion of its flagship digital literacy program "Digital Tayo," its local policies addressing voter interference, and its "Misinformation and Harm policy" to remove certain COVID-19 and vaccine-related misinformation.

Moreover, Meta said it supports a local fact-checking platform, applies labels to media outlets determined to be wholly or partially under the editorial control of their government, and is "constantly working to stop coordinated campaigns that seek to manipulate public debate across our apps."

The HRIA report included qualitative interviews with 32 stakeholders, including journalists, child protection specialists and civil society activists, as well as a survey of 2,000 Meta users in the Philippines. —KBK, GMA News