VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Story of Robredo declining BBC interview is SATIRE

A satire about Vice President Leni Robredo allegedly turning down an interview with a British journalist is being shared by netizens as real news.

The Adobo Chronicles, which describes itself as a “source of up-to-date, unbelievable news,” published on its website on Feb. 12 a report titled “VICE PREZ LENI ROBREDO DECLINES INTERVIEW WITH BBC’S STEPHEN SACKUR.”

Sackur is the host of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) television program HARDtalk, where high-profile guests are interviewed about current affairs.

According to its About page, The Adobo Chronicles writes facts in an italicized font, while the rest are fiction.

It wrote in un-italicized font that Sackur extended to Robredo an invitation for “an exclusive, one-on-one interview sans prepared statements or coaching from her spokespersons and speechwriters.” It added that Robredo declined, but “graciously invited Sackur for a merienda,, or snacks, at the VP Residence at the Boracay Mansion in Quezon City.”

Not all readers, however, were able to understand that the post is satirical.

On Feb. 13, one Facebook (FB) user screen grabbed The Adobo Chronicles’ tweet about the story, and wrote in its caption that the vice president was “afraid of getting shamed because [her] answers will for sure be a miss.” It got 313 engagements, but one of its re-shares garnered another 982 reactions, 414 comments and 133 shares.

The following day, an FB user took a screenshot of the story on the website and captioned it: “Patunay lang na scripted at bayad lhat ang painterview ni Leni lugaw sa mga local media, kya itong reality, tinanggihan! Anong nangyari madumb (This is proof that all of Leni Lugaw’s interviews on local media are scripted and paid, so she rejected this reality! What happened, ma-dumb)?” It received 140 engagements, and another 275 from a re-share.

Satire, according to FB’s ratings guide for fact-checkers, is any “content that uses irony, exaggeration, or absurdity for criticism or awareness,” that “a reasonable user would not immediately understand to be satirical.”

The Adobo Chronicles’ satirical post appeared a day after China’s National Radio and Television Administration blocked BBC World News over accusations of biased and unfair reporting that has “damaged Chinese ethnic unity.”

The two netizens’ posts were shared on Feb. 13 and 14 to public FB groups PROTECT THE PRESIDENT DUTERTE and PHILIPPINE FEDERAL MOVEMENT INTERNATIONAL, which express support for President Rodrigo Duterte.

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