UP president Danilo Concepcion led the signing of the memorandum of understanding for new fact-checking network Tsek.ph with heads and representatives from the media and academic partners, which includes Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University.
Philippine STAR joins collaborative fact-checking initiative for 2019 elections
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - February 12, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine STAR has joined other media organizations and academic institutions for a collaborative fact-checking initiative for the upcoming midterm elections.

The partnership, called Tsek.ph, yesterday launched its website that will serve as repository of fact-checked information by partner media organizations.

“We’re hoping to provide like a one-stop shop for the public to have a way of finding out what the truth is,” said Rachel Khan, chair of the University of the Philippines Journalism Department that initiated the project.

“Academe and the media partners will be working together in terms of the delivery of the checked or assessed material. Each one will still be working on their own but will contribute to the body of fact-checked information,” she added.

UP president Danilo Concepcion led the signing of the memorandum of understanding with heads and representatives from the media and academic partners, which includes Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University.

In addition to The STAR, other newsrooms that joined the project as founding partners include ABS-CBN Integrated News and Current Affairs, Baguio Midland Courier, Interaksyon, Mindanews, Philstar.com, Probe Productions, CLTV 36, Rappler, Vera Files and dzUP. 

Discussions are under way for other media organizations to join the partnership.

In a statement, the UP Journalism Department said the partnership hopes to prevent a repeat of the country’s experience in the 2016 elections, wherein “fake news,” hoaxes and other forms of disinformation were deployed to influence voters’ choices, deceive the public and undermine rational debates.

“The election-related information that will be fact-checked by Tsek.ph include platforms and campaign promises of candidates; statements and remarks made by candidates, personalities, government agencies and other entities; and election-related posts on social media, blogs and other platforms,” it said.

“The verified claims will then be given ratings in relation to the degree of their veracity, falsity and completeness (Accurate, False, Misleading, No Basis and Needs Context),” it added.

Signatories and members of the technical working group of Tsek.ph, a pioneering fact-checking collaboration between the academe and newsrooms in time for the start of the campaign period for the May midterm elections.

Khan said the ratings system is necessary to enable the public to differentiate the levels of disinformation that may circulate during the election season.

“It could be a true statement but was taken out of context, therefore it becomes false. This is precisely why we have come up with several levels of ratings to guide the public on how to read a particular article,” she said.

The academic partners will provide additional context to the fact-checked articles, particularly in case of different ratings from various newsrooms.

The public may also submit election-related claims for verification at the claim submission page on the Tsek.ph website.

The project also has international support from the Facebook Journalism Project and technology provider Meedan.

STAR cries foul

As this developed, The STAR also warned the public yesterday against circulating posts attributing a fake report to the media organization.

“It has come to our attention that our organization is being used to spread fake news,” the company said on social media on Monday.

“We would like to inform you that our post about martial law in Mindanao was digitally altered to become news about a blogger,” it added.

A screenshot of the original story, “Palace: More violence in Mindanao without martial law” published last Feb. 4, was edited to make it appear that it was a report about the death of blogger Jover Laurio, who is critical of the government.

The STAR urged the public to be vigilant against fake stories spreading online.

“We call on the public to be more circumspect and check before spreading such kind of information,” it added.

2019 MIDTERM ELECTIONS FACT-CHECKING TSEK PH
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