In the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of a former dictator, won the May 9 presidential election with more than 56% of the vote. He came ahead of liberal candidate Leni Robredo. On election night, edited images began circulating that showed Robredo receiving more votes than the announced result. The entire election campaign was marked by misinformation, often spun in favour of Marcos Jr., according to many local fact-checkers.
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- Two screenshots were shared, purporting to show election results posted by two Philippine media outlets. In the screenshots, Leni Robredo apparently received as many votes as Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the winner.
- But the images are edited and the media outlets pictured have issued denials. It is possible that someone used the source code from the websites to modify how the results appeared online.
The verification in detail
On May 9, as the first results of the election in the Philippines were being announced, some people began sharing images online purporting to show the results of the vote, as published by the Philippine media outlets GMA News and ABS-CBN. According to the screenshots, candidate Robredo was close to Marcos Jr. in the number of votes cast, while the official results showed Marcos Jr. in the lead.
An initial screenshot, published on May 9, shows the results reportedly published by the Philippine television station GMA News. According to the image, Robredo had received 19.7 million votes compared to 20.08 million for Marcos Jr., according to estimates at 9.02pm local time. The post garnered more than 24,000 likes.
GMA News said it never published these figures: “Some screenshots from GMA’s Eleksyon 2022 television coverage and results website have been edited and manipulated to feature false election results, and spread on social media by unscrupulous accounts.
A live feed posted on the TV station’s Facebook account shows the real figures from 9:02pm. At 1:55 minutes into the video, the original clip can be seen, showing Robredo with 9.4 million votes, not 19.7 million as seen in the edited image.
Another edited image using results from ABS-CBN
There was another misleading screenshot shared on social media, this time purporting to show the results published by ABS-CBN at 9:32pm local time. According to this image, Robredo have received 18,282,280 votes, compared to 21,725,982 for Marcos.
ABS-CBN denied these figures in a statement on Twitter on 10 May: “Beware of some edited screen shots using images from the ABS-CBN HALALAN RESULTS page that are being shared on social media. We would like to inform the public that these are manipulated images.”
“Like other media organisations and other institutions, ABS-CBN has been getting its data from the Comelec Transparency Media Server. The resulting data are similar,” the media outlet added.
Data from the Comelec, one of the three “constitutional commissions” responsible for regulating elections in the Philippines, is available here.
The screenshot showing the false results comes from the Halalan Results site set up by ABS-CBN. It is possible to change the display of the results on the web page by changing its source code. Depending on the browser used, you can usually do this by right-clicking on the webpage and clicking “Inspect”, then selecting the relevant figure, changing it and taking a screenshot of the page. In the screenshot below, we have changed the display of Robredo’s result, giving her more than 50.8 million votes.
With more than 98% of eligible ballots counted at the time of publication on May 12, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had more than 31 million votes, compared to 14.8 million for Leni Robredo.
An election campaign marked by disinformation, including misleading pro-Marcos content
The election campaign in the Philippines has been the subject of a lot of misinformation, particularly pro-Marcos content.
Many posts on social networks promoted fabricated stories glorifying Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his father’s legacy, as noted in a report by the Philippine media outlet Rappler.
The elections were also marked by a smear campaign against the liberal candidate Leni Robredo, as the same Philippine media outlet reported last May, as well as Vera Files, another local media outlet, in December 2021.
On May 10, AFP spotted a report shared on social networks claiming that Robredo “deceived Filipinos”. The report actually shows an AFP article about a pro-Marcos disinformation campaign.
Other false attacks have targeted Robredo, suggesting that her husband did not die of natural causes, or accusing her of lying about her career as a lawyer.