VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Post claiming May 1 street protests ‘will push through’ MISLEADING

Several netizens have republished as their own a misleading Facebook (FB) post that claims mass protests on Labor Day will be done on the streets. Its source post has since been corrected, but its republication continues to mislead readers on social media.

The celebration of this year’s Labor Day will be done online, instead of the traditional street rallies, because of COVID-19.

From April 28 to 30, pages Viral Hugot Balita and SangJhing and two netizens posted identical status updates asking protesters to postpone their May 1 rally, and reminded them to “STAY AT HOME.” The posts also carried a link to a FB post by the verified account of TV Patrol.

The Labor Day rally, a massive yearly event participated in by progressive workers, students and activists, will be done on social media and not on the streets, according to the April 28 ABS-CBN report featured in the TV Patrol post. This fact is even made apparent in its headline: “Labor day protests, tuloy sa social media dahil sa (will take place on social media due to) COVID-19.”

Observing social distancing guidelines, labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno said workers will be conducting noise barrages from their homes and wear red face masks, shirts and arm bands as they hold their protest online, according to the report and several other related stories.

The posts also carried a graphic naming several leftist groups, and three photos of old protests:

  • one image was taken during International Human Rights Day mass action on December 10, 2017, published by the UGATLahi Artist Collective FB page;
  • another photo was of a Feb. 4 rally at the Philippine General Hospital calling for mass testing, uploaded by the Kabataan Partylist FB page;
  • the third photo is a screengrab from a March 15 FB post using an image of a woman holding a placard during a protest earlier this year.

The earliest version of the post was published by pro-Duterte FB page Inday Sara Para sa Masa, which has received over 115,000 interactions from public and private FB accounts and over 1,400 shares. It was published on the evening of April 28 but was corrected midday of April 30, but not before getting reactions from netizens calling for the arrest of the protesters.

Inday Para Sa Masa was created in November 2019, Viral Hugot Balita in September 2016, and SangJhing on March 26.

(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)