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Academe, media launch Tsek.ph for collaborative fact-checking

MANILA, Philippines — Media organizations and universities launched Tsek.ph, a collaborative fact-checking project, at the University of the Philippines in Diliman on Monday.

UP Vice President for Public Affairs Elena Pernia, former dean of the College of Mass Communication, said in opening remarks at the signing for the project that the task of fact-checking is not easy but is necessary.

UP said in a press release that it hopes to “prevent a repeat of the country’s experience in the 2016 election during which ‘fake news’, hoaxes and other forms of disinformation were deployed to influence voters’ choices, deceive the public and undermine rational debates.”

Focused on the elections, the project will fact-check information like “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.”

‘One-stop shop for verifying campaign information’

Rachel Khan, chairperson of the Journalism department at UP CMC, said the academe will coordinate the overall site at Tsek.ph. Media partners will be working independently of each other “but will contribute to the body of fact-checked information.”

UP’s role is to coordinate the partners, she added. According to a press release, the project is “spearheaded by the UP College of Mass Communication’s Journalism Department, the UP College of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science and the UP College of Law.”

Stories on the site are given a basic rating of ‘accurate’, ‘needs context’, ‘misleading’ or ‘no basis’. Khan said that there is a need for different ratings because kinds of disinformation and misiniformation “are not always equal.”

She explained that a true statement that is taken out of context can still be false. “Precisely why have to rate it so people can differentiate the levels of disinformation,” she said. 

“We’re hoping to provide a one-stop shop for the public to have a way to finding out what the truth is or verify information given out during the campaigns,” Khan said. “We’re hoping to show that media can be trusted, as a partnership we can work together and bring out information is true, credible and reliable for the public.”

Partner universities, media organizations

Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University are academic partners in the project.

Media partners represented at the signing of the memorandum of agreement for the project  are The STAR, Philstar.com, Interaksyon, ABS-CBN, Central Luzon TV (CLTV36), MindaNews, Probe productions, Rappler, VERA Files.

Other media organizations will be invited to join Tsek.ph.

Tsek.ph is also supported by the Facebook Journalism Project, non-profit social technology company Meedan, and the Macanas Journalism Grant.

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