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Google, TikTok Urged: Address False Info Before Polls


To combat electoral disinformation in the Philippines, the Movement Against Disinformation emphasized the importance of transparency, accountability, and increased resources.

Before the 2022 elections, a coalition of civil society organizations is urging Google and TikTok to address the spread of false information.

The Movement Against Disinformation (MAD), which sent a similar letter to Facebook’s owner Meta earlier this year, emphasized the need for greater transparency, accountability, and resources to combat electoral disinformation in the Philippines.

“In the Philippines, Google holds a near monopoly over the presentation and organization of information. Google’s Search consistently ranks as the most-visited site in the Philippines and as the most-used search engine by Filipinos,” the open letter to Google read.
“Its online video service, YouTube has become the second most-used platform in the Philippines. Amid YouTube’s growing popularity, more Filipinos rely on it for news,” it said.

Meanwhile, MAD noted that TikTok has become the Philippines’ most popular entertainment app, citing its “strongest sway among the youth.”

It said that 62 percent of the platform’s ever-increasing number of users are between the ages of 20 and 29, a group that is both impressionable and susceptible to misinformation.

The group urged the two companies to strictly enforce their anti-disinformation policies, citing their actions in recent elections in other countries as examples.

It also urged Google and TikTok to work with or hire fact-checking organizations to moderate content on their platforms.

MAD specifically requested that Google improve its enforcement of anti-disinformation policies, make disinformation moderation more transparent, and empower stakeholders by providing more context on political or issue-based content.

“Google and YouTube must disclose the full criteria used to flag content as disinformation during the election period. We ask that Google be transparent in its election-related initiatives,” the letter read.

“Truthful content from established, authoritative sources should score better in ranking systems, while content spreading disinformation should be flagged and ‘pushed down’ in the algorithm, if not deleted,” it added.

MAD suggested that TikTok follow suit with what it did during the US presidential elections in 2020, when it removed false content and launched an in-app voting guide.

It also requested more resources and initiatives to empower users and combat disinformation, as well as an independent human rights audit of the Philippines’ impact.

“Content and accounts spreading election-related disinformation and misinformation, flagged by independent fact-checkers, must be taken down with dispatch. Moreover, content containing spurious information should be identified as such with an in-app label and be barred from being recommended into users’ feeds,” the letter read.
“TikTok should publish the full criteria it uses to flag content as electoral disinformation. We ask that TikTok render transparent its election-related initiatives and its archive of flagged and deleted content,” it stated.

The coalition has yet to receive a response from Google and TikTok. However, both companies have previously stated that they will combat disinformation that threatens electoral processes.

Google had previously stated that it would not accept election advertisements in the Philippines from the beginning of the campaign period on February 8 until the national and local elections on May 9 next year.

All election advertisements purchased through Google Ads, Display & Video 360, and Shopping platforms that advertisers intend to place on Google, YouTube, and other partner properties will be subject to the policy.

The company also announced the expansion of its YouTube information panels to include well-known topics that are susceptible to misinformation.

Videos about martial law in the Philippines, climate change, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Holocaust, and the Apollo moon landing are among them.

TikTok previously announced a partnership with the Commission on Elections, pledging to provide “credible, fact-based content to assist Filipino voters in making informed decisions during the election period.”

MAD and Meta also met to discuss MAD’s plans to combat online disinformation. It also made public the findings of an independent human rights impact assessment as well as its response to the report’s recommendations.

Google, TikTok Urged: Address False Info Before Polls|

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