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VERA Files at 15: Truth continues to be our business

Today — May 26, 2023 — VERA Files turns 15.

May 26, 2023

Celine Isabelle Samson

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6-minute read

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VERA Files turns 15.

To mark the occasion, we list 15 fact-check articles, fact sheets and learning materials that underscore our journey countering misinformation and disinformation over the years.

#1 Is that so? Poe says PH 5th largest coconut producer

Read here: https://verafiles.org/articles/is-that-so-poe-says-ph-5th-largest-coconut-producer

Our first fact check was published on March 1, 2016. We have since published over 2,600 VERA Files Fact Check articles.

Fun fact: This fact check was written by college students!

Our fact checking initiative — then called “Is that so?” — started in a classroom at the University of the Philippines Diliman. Our cofounder Yvonne Chua, an associate professor of journalism, had students fact-check candidates during the national elections that year. She and former VERA Files editor Jake Soriano vetted the articles.

#2 Vera Files Fact Sheet: Ano ang fake news?

Read here: https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-sheet-ano-ang-fake-news.

“Fake news” was the word of the year in 2017, a year after Donald Trump and Rodrigo Duterte were elected presidents. Both would later become prominent sources of falsehoods and misleading statements.

We no longer use the term “fake news” and instead use the more accurate terms: misinformation and disinformation. Find out why here.

#3 VERA FILES FACT SHEET: Facebook’s third-party fact-checking program in PH explained

Read here:  https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-sheet-facebooks-third-party-fact-checking-pr.

Have you ever gotten a Facebook notification about sharing a post that turned out to be false? That’s a result of Meta’s third-party fact checking partnership with signatories of the International Fact-Checking Network.

VERA Files is one of three such partners in the Philippines, alongside Rappler and Agence France-Presse.  

#4 VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Netizens revive FAKE quote card in attempt to make Robredo look dumb

Read here:  https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-netizens-revive-fake-quote-card-attemp.

Our most-viewed fact check to date is a 2019 fact check article on a Facebook post that claimed former Vice President Leni Robredo said her three daughters were “all girls.”

Quote cards — or social media cards that show a face of a prominent personality juxtaposed with a quote — were the top format used by bad actors to spread disinformation in 2019. These often made it appear that the target public figure is dumb or makes nonsensical statements.

#5 VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Video of bats, snakes, other animals sold at ‘Wuhan’ wet market NOT TRUE; it’s in Indonesia

Read here:  https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-video-bats-snakes-other-animals-sold-w.

Our second most-viewed fact-check is an article in which we debunked a video that claimed to show exotic animals being sold at Wuhan, China.

The video went viral in February 2020, at the beginning of what would become an infodemic and pandemic brought about by COVID-19.

#6 VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Online posts claiming Hontiveros involved in PhilHealth bonuses mess FALSE

Our third fact check that has drawn the most eyeballs is on a claim that surfaces every so often on social media: That opposition senator Risa Hontiveros was involved in the unauthorized release of “millions” to “billions” of bonuses to PhilHealth employees.

We set the record straight here: https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-online-posts-claiming-hontiveros-invol.

#7 BUHAY KA PA BA? Portrait of a president as a source of disinformation

Read here: https://verafiles.org/articles/buhay-ka-pa-ba-portrait-president-source-disinformation.

Information empowers the citizenry. But what if the president himself is a source of disinformation?

Nineteen months into the Duterte administration, VERA Files Fact Check painted a picture of Digong’s repeated falsehoods and flip-flops about his personal life, wealth, policies, and political allies and nemeses. 

# 8 VERA FILES FACT CHECK: How Panelo justifies turnarounds on ‘oust Duterte Matrix’ source

Read here: https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-how-panelo-justifies-turnarounds-oust

It was not only an earthquake in Luzon that shook Filipinos in April 2019 but also a revelation from Duterte’s spokesperson Salvador Panelo: That there was an ouster plot against the president and that journalists, civil society organizations and even celebrities were behind it.

Placed at the center of the Oust Duterte matrix was VERA Files president Ellen Tordesillas, who challenged Panelo to present evidence to support the baseless, fabricated diagram.

#9 VERA FILES FACT CHECK YEARENDER: Marcos Jr. benefited the most from election-related disinformation in 2021, Robredo was favorite target

Read here: https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-yearender-marcos-jr-benefited-most-ele.

The 2022 presidential election was the third national poll that VERA Files Fact Check covered. This special report highlighted who were the biggest beneficiaries and victims of election-related disinformation online.

Journalist Christian Esguerra, then with the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC), interviewed one of our editors on the matter. 

#10 VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Celebs, netizens mistakenly share photos of 2019 Cagayan flood in ‘Ulysses’ posts

Read here: https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-celebs-netizens-mistakenly-share-photo

Celebrities can get it wrong, too.

Amid a wave of calls for donations for victims of Typhoon Ulysses in 2020, artists like Moira Dela Torre, Ben&Ben and Angel Locsin shared photos of flooding in Cagayan. But it turned out that one of the most popular photos actually showed a flood from a year earlier.

When false information is shared unknowingly or without the intent to harm, this is called misinformation. 

#11 VERA FILES YEARENDER: Fact-checking public figures with an impact

Read it here: https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-yearender-fact-checking-public-figures-impact

Does fact-checking really make an impact? In our experience, yes.

Some public figures do react when they are held accountable for what they say (or post). In this story, we took a look back at some of these reactions, both positive or negative.

#12 VERA FILES FACT SHEET: Bakit peligroso ang ‘red-tagging’ & #13 VERA FILES FACT SHEET: Why ‘red-tagging’ is dangerous

Read them here:

Two of VERA Files’ most popular fact sheets are FAQs we answered on red-tagging, or the act of harassing and persecuting someone based on known or suspected communist sympathies.

Red-tagging would later ramp up as legislators passed the Anti-Terror Law.

#14 VERAfied: A DIY guide to fact-checking and fighting misinformation and disinformation

Read here:  https://verafiles.org/articles/verafied-diy-guide-fact-checking-and-fighting-misinformation

Fact-checking is a replicable process. You can do it, too!

#15 #PramisWalangLokohan: A video tutorial series

Access it here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyJB3wKtjMahjfFInrY0OJ6CLDms3OS-6 

Watch our six-episode tutorial on how to do fact-checking and how to keep yourself safe as a digital citizen!

We hope you continue to join us in our mission to uphold the value of facts and truthfulness in this day and age.

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