MAD a coalition of academic, legal, and civic groups, are fighting Facebook for fake news and election-related disinformation


PHILIPPINES – The Movement Against Disinformation is a broad coalition of members of the academe, the legal profession, civil society groups, international and local non-government organizations and other advocacy groups that are united to prevent the systematic and unregulated spread of disinformation in social media. Among its members are the Philippine Bar Association, Philippine Chapter-New York Bar Association, Lyceum of the Philippines University, Ateneo de Naga, Ateneo de Davao, Xavier University, Alternative Law Groups, Ateneo Human Rights Center, SALIGAN, Karapatan, iDefend, Wiki Society of the Philippines, Pinoy Media Center, Foundation for Media Alternatives, Ateneo Sanggunian, and members of the faculty of Ateneo Law.

Present during the launch were convenors Dean Tony La Viña, Atty. Enrique Domingo of the Philippine Bar Association, SAMASA Chair Atty. Susan Villanueva, Atty. Grace Salonga, Dean Domnina Rances of Ateneo de Naga College of Law, Atty. Ernesto Neri of Xavier University College of Law, Dean Sol Mawis of Lyceum of the Philippines College of Law, Dr. Anton Lim and Josh Mahinay of Now You Vote, Carlos Nazareno of Wiki Society of the Philippines, Albert Pagunsan of Fact Check Philippines, Professors Fred Mison and Grip Bueta of Ateneo Law School, Niza Concepcion of iDefend, Lisa Garcia of the Foundation for Media Alternatives, Gian Miko L. Arabejo of the Alternative Law Groups, student leaders Kara Angan and Tea Abastillas of the ADMU Loyola Schools Sanggunian, and many others.

In the launch, lead convenor Dean Tony La Viña explained that considering that the social media are being weaponized to suppress dissent and to spread disinformation, MAD shall strongly for and carry out a nonpartisan and organized campaign in multiple fronts to address this serious social problem.

The group also announced its first initiative, which is related to the upcoming 2022 Philippine national elections. Immediately after the launch, the MAD convenors and members of Philippine civil society and local and international human rights groups, will be sending a letter to Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other corporate officials, including its country director in the Philippines, strongly reminding the social media company of its corporate responsibility to respect human rights in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and other international human rights norms.

During the launch, MAD convenor Atty. Enrique Domingo, read the demands of the coalition for Facebook to:

  1. Disclose its comprehensive plans in ensuring that mistruths will not flourish disproportionately in its platform in the context of the upcoming 2022 Philippine national elections, including but not limited to: conducting a human rights impact assessment, transparency in the roll-out of election-related initiatives, and a more robust approach to moderating electoral disinformation.
  2. Enforce Facebook policies to systematically identify and flag for moderation Pages or Groups that mimic and infringe upon the names and branding of legitimate news organizations.
  3. Beyond removing accounts for ‘coordinated inauthentic behavior,’ ensure that efforts to address manipulation of election-related discourse in the Philippines ‘for electoral campaigning’ include violations from authentic accounts, and are enforced in a consistent and transparent manner.
  4. Adopt mandatory labelling for political personalities, both incumbent or aspiring, to guide the public about the nature of and motivation behind the parties.
  5. Increase the weight that Facebook’s algorithm gives to news ecosystem quality (N.E.Q.) scores to ensure that authoritative news appeared more prominently than sources which spread disinformation and incite anger and hate.
  6. Consistently and transparently engage with actors from Philippine civil society, media, academia, and election-monitoring groups in creating, improving, and implementing moderation initiatives. Engagement and cooperation with trusted partners on the ground should go beyond formal occasional meetings. Civil society organizations should be able to meet with staff members that have decision-making powers over content moderation policies in the region. Facebook should establish and maintain open communication channels and mechanisms with trusted partners especially during ongoing national emergencies, including election period.

Dean La Viña emphasized that the letter to Facebook is a call for action. He emphasized that Facebook has a significant role in ensuring clean and fair elections in the Philippines in 2022. It should not allow itself to be used, exploited, and weaponized against Philippine democracy again.

Atty. Domingo, for his part, said that MAD looked forward to having a dialogue with Facebook to find ways to collaborate and work together to achieve our common goal to address electoral disinformation in view of the upcoming 2022 Philippine national elections.

The launch was moderated by Atty. Grace Salonga, MAD convenor.