How Did Meta Prepare for the 2022 Philippine Elections?

Election season in the Philippines has ended with the country’s national elections held several days ago. During this hectic period, many registered to vote, looked into each...

Anissa Maligat
Anissa Maligat May 23, 2022

Election season in the Philippines has ended with the country’s national elections held several days ago. During this hectic period, many registered to vote, looked into each candidate’s advocacies and aspirations, and promoted their bets.

But misinformation and deceptive campaigns also thrived, particularly on Facebook, where 83.9 million Filipinos keep themselves in the know. Fake news, conspiracy theories, and misleading campaigns targeting well-known candidates were all over the popular social networking site.

That said, how did Meta combat misinformation before and during election day? Let’s look at the social media giant’s work for the recent Philippine elections.

An Elections Operation Center

Before election day in the Philippines, Meta activated an Elections Operation Center. The team manning this hub included:

The Drive Against Harmful Content on Facebook

Meta has also gone after content encouraging hate, harassment, and violence. Artificial intelligence helps the company spot and remove any harmful content on Facebook, including hate speech and bullying. Meta’s AI tools can identify damaging content written in Filipino.

Also, the company bans potentially harmful content so it doesn’t reach unsuspecting users. Meta then removes the content if it breaches existing policies. Content moderators go over content in Filipino and Cebuano.

Crackdowns on Malicious Networks

Last April 6, 2022, Meta removed a network of over 400 Facebook accounts, Pages, and groups spreading malicious content. People posing as hacktivists created this network, which violated Meta’s Community Standards and avoided enforcement. Real and duplicate accounts covered the following aspects related to hacking:

Meta also suspended a network like the one we’ve mentioned but with the notorious terrorist group New People’s Army (NPA) behind it. The network breached the company’s policies against groups or organizations inciting violence.

Efforts Against Inauthentic Behavior

Besides networks publishing harmful content, Meta targeted and removed accounts showing inauthentic and deceptive activity. They included pages and groups that shifted to election-related themes, fake political supporters or news outlets, and accounts fabricating engagement.

Each category had notable motives behind it. For instance, pages posing as political supporters or local news organizations helped clickbait websites gain views through supposed live videos. Accounts with fake engagement did the same, recording high, spam-like posting rates. Meta cited significant examples of accounts taking that approach, including a network of over 700 accounts publishing political and entertainment content.

A Watchful Eye on Misinformation

Misinformation is another issue that Meta watched out for during the Philippine election season. The company has removed information inciting physical harm and disrupting how political processes work. Furthermore, Meta has taken particular forms of misleading content off its social media platforms.

As for suitable content, Agence France-Presse (AFP), Rappler, and Vera Files fact-check these pieces of information. These organizations also add context to vague or doubtful statements to help users understand what they’re reading. English and Filipino content go through the eyes of Meta’s Filipino fact-checking partners.

How Meta Deals with False Information

If you’ve seen misleading information on Facebook, you may have noticed a warning on it. Meta puts warning labels on deceptive content and links articles that debunk those posts. These labels appear on content posted to Meta’s social networking platforms and articles or information you’d send in Messenger.

But before the company rolls out warning labels for false information, it keeps the content from spreading further and notifies users that they’re sharing deceptive content.

Furthermore, pages, groups, profiles, websites, and Instagram accounts with “False” and “Altered” posts can’t boost these types of content. Meta also removes these accounts and their posts from user recommendations. Pages and accounts sharing misleading information won’t be able to monetize and advertise on any Meta platform, either.

On Voter Registration

In 2021, Facebook sent out pop-up notifications directing people to trustworthy voter registration information. These notifications are linked to the Vote Pilipinas and Magparehistro ka! websites. Eventually, 1.9 million Filipinos registered while the campaign was going on. Also, Facebook reminded users to go out and vote on election day.

Protection for Journalists & Human Rights Defenders

Misleading news and harassment made election coverage tough for journalists. Disinformation spread like wildfire during the campaign period, plus the current administration, trolling, and harassment became unkind to the media. Meta responded to these challenges with the following protections:

Digital Literacy & Civic Engagement Campaigns

Meta also committed itself to helping people avoid misinformation and vote wisely during the elections. With these goals in mind, the company launched and supported several campaigns promoting critical thinking, digital literacy, and voter education. Here’s a brief look at the campaigns that Meta and its election partners spearheaded.

Be Wais & Teka Moment

Meta, along with the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and the Legal Network on Truthful Elections (LENTE), launched these civic education campaigns in November 2021. Over 36 million users saw these campaigns that encouraged critical thinking before sharing information online.

Digital Tayo

Digital Tayo is Meta’s leading digital literacy program covering online safety, privacy, digital citizenship, and other related aspects. The program aimed to reach over 6.5 million Filipinos online.

Other Election-Related Campaigns & Initiatives

Additionally, Meta launched and led several other election-related campaigns and initiatives. It worked closely with Podcast Network Asia and LENTE for the voter education podcast series “Shading Someone on Your Ballot.” The podcast discussed why listeners should vote, how the electoral process works, and where people can get voting information.

Meta also established a Philippine Elections Hub that helped candidates campaign on its platforms. Aspiring local and national leaders learned to reach voters with Facebook and Instagram tools, use ad transparency tools, and manage ad authorizations in this hub.

Finally, Meta and COMELEC guided political parties and candidates on the following aspects so they can better tackle gender-based harassment:

More Transparency Over Political Ads

Many Filipino political candidates use ads to win voters over throughout their campaigns. These ads often play on TV screens, but political aspirants can also show them online for a wider reach.

If a candidate wanted to run ads on Facebook, for example, they would complete Meta’s ad authorization process first. The company also asked advertisers to include “Paid for by” disclaimers on election, political, or social issue-related ads that they posted. Meta has been encouraging advertisers to meet these requirements since March.

Furthermore, Meta’s Ads Library will archive ads about social issues, elections, or politics from the Philippines. It lets people see the ads currently active on the company’s platforms, the users they’ve reached, and the cost of these campaigns. All political ads posted across Meta’s technologies will be on the Ads Library for seven years.

Ensure Responsible Social Media Management

Misinformation, smear campaigns, and harassment became rampant on the Internet as Filipinos prepared to elect new leaders. Thus, Meta took steps to maintain a safe, credible online space for Filipino voters. The tech powerhouse’s election-related efforts ensured that everyone gained credible information and made their voices heard on election day.

Keep up with the latest developments in the digital marketing landscape. Check out the Growth Rocket blog today for more updates, tips, and resources.

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