By Marnee Mascarenas & Patricia Ong
Rappler’s MovePH, in collaboration with St. Paul Pasig’s Student Coordinating Team (SCT), held the “Fact-Checking in the time of the coronavirus” webinar on September 11. The two-hour online event, which had more than 500 participants, tackled the dangers of misinformation and the ways to combat it.
The first speaker was Ms. Gemma Mendoza, Rappler’s Head for Research, Partnerships, and Strategy. She began by saying that fake news has always been present to manipulate the people. Now that around 2 billion people are interconnected through a digital ecosystem, the spread and reach of fake news has heightened drastically. She also emphasized that at times of crises, reliable information is as important as our daily necessities.
To date, Rappler has analyzed around a hundred false and misleading claims related to COVID-19. Ms. Vernice Tantuco, Rappler writer and researcher, emphasized this by enumerating tips and tricks on how to properly fact-check hoaxes and statements usually made by public officials and well-known influencers.
Nearing the end of the webinar, Ms. Pauline Macaraeg, one of Rappler’s writers, conducted the Spot-Check activity where participants were asked to identify parts of media posts that are susceptible to be fake or misleading.
During the open forum, Ms. Mendoza mentioned that those who are not digital natives are more prone to be victims of fake news. She emphasized that beyond fact-checking is the need to reach out to the rest of society since the spread of fake news endangers public safety, undermines legitimate research, and causes more harm than good.
Therese Aquino, Research editor of Pauliworld, says, “Fact-checking is, admittedly, a wearing task but [it] gives journalists more credibility and power to reach a greater audience.” Additionally, Ms. Beatriz Gulinao, a social science teacher from SPCP says, “…I constantly ask my students about their opinion on certain issues and I encourage them to make sure they can back up their ideas with facts. I hope this will help them in forming opinions that are informed and principled.”
To conclude, Rappler encouraged everyone to stay vigilant by sending reports of misleading posts and articles to their official email firstname.lastname@example.org. They also reminded those who are interested in co-hosting a fact-checking webinar to connect with them through email@example.com.