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The Philippine Government Combats Fake News With Online Platforms

Recently has fake news made headlines as thousands of people gathered around vaccination centres, fuelled by rumours that the unvaccinated are ineligible for government assistance. The SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has been accompanied by a large amount of misinformation and false information about the virus, particularly on social media.

As fake news, particularly that relating to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), continues to flood social media, the Philippine National Police has reviewed its cyberspace presence, particularly on social media.

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) of the Philippines are two government agencies tasked with preventing fake news from spreading online and endangering people’s health.

OpenGov reported in a joint statement issued by the Philippines business firm says the impact of cybercrime in the country is expected to grow further. Globally, it is expected to reach US$6 trillion in 2021 and up to US$10.5 trillion annually by 2025 if businesses and governments do not take proactive measures on this issue soon.

Chief of CIDG, who previously led the ACG, was aware of the unit’s obstacles, prompting him to launch at least two projects aimed at increasing police presence online, particularly on social media. The first is Project E-Sumbong, which established online platforms, particularly on social media, where complaints could be filed and police assistance in identifying cybercriminals could be sought.

The second is Project E-Access, which was launched last month to strengthen the anti-cybercrime campaign by providing an informative and convenient platform for cybercrime prevention awareness that the public can easily access.

“This Project: E-ACCESS is a web platform for concerned netizens involving in an online account such as mobile number, email, website or social media application which has been the subject of a verified complaint or with a pending criminal case for cybercrime violations base on PNP ACG data”, the Chief said.

As per the Chief, this cybercrime watch initiative will serve as a “go-to” destination for netizens seeking anti-cybercrime prevention and awareness content such as informative video clips, detection and prevention tips, infographics, cybercrime statistics, and other information that will educate and promote a cybersecurity and awareness culture in the country.

Project E-Access notifies netizens of online accounts or mobile phone numbers used in cybercrime, particularly financial fraud – information that can help people avoid becoming victims of scams. The site also tracks ACG’s operations against individuals and groups, resulting in an up-to-date list of cyber criminals operating in the United States and around the world.

Both the CIDG and ACG are currently investigating the people responsible for spreading false information that the unvaccinated will not be allowed to go out and claim the “ayuda” (government cash assistance) after Metro Manila was placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine, from August 6 to 20.

Thousands of people flocked to various vaccination sites in Metro Manila, particularly in the cities of Manila and Las Pias, as a result of the fake news. The chief asserted that 52 people were charged between March 9, 2020, and August 9, 2021, for spreading fake news and unverified information about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on social media. Overall, the PNP has filed 121 criminal complaints and charged 80 persons in court for various cyber crimes exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PNP has increased its monitoring of cybercrime, according to the chief, because most people are required to log on to the internet for school, office work, and business due to the pandemic. He also stated that, according to CIDG and ACG reports, there has been an increase in incidents of people spreading fake news and unverified information about the COVID-19 pandemic on social media in order for operations to proceed.

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