TotooBa.Info: Disinformation Reporting Tool

May 7, 2023 ferdinandlsanchez
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Location is a disinformation reporting tool in the Philippines developed by Internews, an international non-profit, to identify, review, document, and notify social media platforms of online disinformation cases which may be used to influence public opinion.

Problems and Purpose

The purpose of is to crowdsource reports on disinformation building a database and mechanism that can identify, review, and document disinformation incidents on various social media platforms, while supporting action against malign actors. Roughly translated, ‘Totoo ba’ means ‘is it true’ in Filipino. 

This reporting tool addresses two main problems.

First, it provides an up-to-date analysis on the evolving character of disinformation. A remarkable element of disinformation in the Philippines is its ‘extremely rapid evolution and diversification of disinformation operations’ [1]. Building a database and mechanism allow stakeholders to monitor the topics of disinformation, the practices of malign actors, and sources of disinformation and use these insights to inform their various initiatives. 

Second,’s social media monitors flag content on social media that can trigger potential violence or harm and identify malign actors or individuals that systematically spread disinformation. 

Background History and Context

The Philippines is often described as the ‘patient zero’ of the global disinformation epidemic [2]. Investigative reports and academic research have identified the role of disinformation in shaping electoral outcomes and causing deep divisions based on partisan loyalties [3].

The story of disinformation in the Philippines is often associated with the rise of macho-populist strongman President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016 [4, 5] and the spectacular electoral victory of the son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Jr in 2022 [6, 7]. Disinformation is not limited to popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but also in relatively ‘understudied’ platforms such as TikTok and WeChat [8].

Journalists, academics, human rights advocates and digital rights activists, among others have raised concerns about the implications of disinformation to the information ecosystem and media freedom in the Philippines [9]. A survey conducted in 2021, for example, finds that many Filipinos ‘do not always verify the news they consume’ but a large majority are also concerned about the spread of incorrect information on issues such as health and politics [10].

There have been various interventions to respond to these concerns. Fact-checking, digital literacy programmes, and content creator bootcamps are some of many examples. is part of this wider array of interventions to address disinformation in the Philippines. 

Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities was developed under the Initiative for Media Freedom (IMF) implemented by Internews and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Internes is an international non-profit that supports independent media and promotes healthy information ecosystems in 100 countries.

IMF is a five-year programme that supports and advances media capacity and independence to enhance democratic governance that provides economic and political inclusion and promotes social stability. It aims to improve the environment for a free press, bolster capacity of media and other organisations to address disinformation and strengthen media self-regulation. is also supported by Internews’ Six-Track Engagement Against Disinformation Initiative (STEAD-i), a project that aims to mobilize a diverse coalition of Filipino stakeholders, including civil society organizations, media, and academics, to identify solutions to the disinformation phenomenon and conduct strategic interventions to effectively respond to the information disorder issue.

Participant Recruitment and Selection is a crowdsourcing platform, which means anyone can submit a report. It does not collect identifiable information from people submitting reports. 

Methods and Tools Used documents disinformation through crowdsourcing and social media monitoring by a team of researchers contracted by Internews. Crowdsourcing is an open call for anyone to take part in a task online [11], in this case, reporting incidences of disinformation. This approach to crowdsourcing is comparable to initiatives such as FixMyStreet, where residents report local problems such as vandalism, break-ins or illegal parking or BikeMaps where anyone can input information on bike accidents, thefts and other similar incidences around the world.

This a familiar mode of civic participation in the Philippines. There has long been a culture of ‘reporting’ in the country, often in radio phone-in programmes or television shows. Ordinary citizens turn to broadcasters, celebrity lawyers, shock jocks, and, more recently, to YouTube influencers to report a grievance and receive a response in return [12]. builds on this entrenched cultural practice, but this time without the mediation of charismatic talk show hosts. 

What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation offers two ways of reporting disinformation – either by adding a Google Chrome plug-in or an online reporting form. In the online reporting form, users are asked to paste the link of the post, identify the central topic of disinformation, and categorise the type of post (e.g. maliciously edited photos, deepfake videos, conspiracy theory etc). This is followed by an open-ended question asking users to explain why they reported the post and how it can be corrected. Users may upload a screen shot of the post at the end of the form.

In 2022,’s crowdsourcing platform received over 400 reports from the public. Complemented by Internews’ social media monitoring mechanism, recorded 7,662 verified reports in its first year.

Internews aims to progressively increase reports received through crowdsourcing by conducting mobilization campaigns to encourage Filipino citizens to use

Internews collects, processes, and analyzes the reports submitted. Aside from corroborating the content of the post, they assess whether the post may possibly violate community guidelines or standards of social media platforms (e.g. child safety, suicide or self-harm, harassment, hateful behaviour, hate speech etc). Internews also determines the type of account that posted (e.g. influencer/content creator, government, media, religious leader) and the status of the post (e.g. active, fact-checked, flagged by platform as disinformation, removed/taken down).

To track the content of disinformation, developed a Malign Actor Tracking (MAT) taxonomy. Categories include: (1) government and domestic politics or content about government officials, agencies, and affairs; (2) history or posts that distort or misrepresent historical events; (3) health including those that relate to diseases and treatment; (4) media or content that attack or discredit media practitioners and organisations; (5) environment and climate change where false claims are made on scientific data about climate change and/or disasters; (6) religion where posts produce hateful messages using spiritual language or content that misrepresent religious groups or personalities; (7) international politics, diplomacy, and foreign investment including conspiracy theories on foreign interference in Philippine affairs; (8) entertainment and celebrities or posts that target people outside government; (9) finance and business or content related to bogus cash prizes and investment scams.

Internews provides limited database access to partners and a network of organizations and individuals, including social media companies, fact-checkers and media organizations, civil society organizations working on disinformation, and academic researchers. was initially designed as a tool to support specific stakeholders who work in addressing disinformation. This allows stakeholders to have a granular understanding of the information disorder and tailor their plans to tackle disinformation based on data. It is also a tool to increase social media accountability by capturing data that may be missed by algorithm detection systems. Internews is currently exploring broadening access to the database and monthly briefs to a larger number of organizations. 

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

Internews releases a monthly brief containing an overview of ‘top topics’ of disinformation reported to and in-depth case studies. In 2022, national politics and ‘red-tagging’ (accusing individuals or organisations of being communists or communist sympathisers) are among the most reported disinformation sub-topics. Facebook and YouTube are among the most reported platforms that contained disinformation based on Internews’ monitoring.

These monthly briefs are shared with the program’s funders, the diplomatic community at large, social media companies, the Commission on Elections of the Philippines, various media partners, and civil society organizations engaged in addressing disinformation. As condensed and easily readable materials, the briefs can raise awareness among civil society, media, and the diplomatic community on the scale and impact of influence operations.

The data has been used to inform media and information literacy initiatives, such as in the creation of education materials, and helped inform disinformation research efforts of academics, such as the Parallel Public Spheres: Influence Operations in the 2022 Philippine Elections report. The data has also allowed Internews to advocate with social media companies to act against disinformation narratives and peddlers, which can lead to improved accountability on malign actors.

Analysis and Lessons Learned

Crowdsourcing tools require investment in awareness raising campaigns to create momentum. A pool of community volunteers and integrating the platform in media literacy trainings are good ways to encourage use of The inclusion of the Chrome plug-in improved the ease of use of the platform. Continuous investment in publicity initiatives and website maintenance and improvement are key items to consider in crowdsourcing platform development.

See Also


[1] Kehailia, G. (2021) Foreword. In Chua, Y., Curato, N., & Ong, J. Information Dystopia and Philippine Democracy (vi). Internews. Retrieved from

[2] Harbath, K. (2018). 360/Os: Facebook's Katie Harbath on protecting election integrity. YouTube. Rappler. Retrieved from 360/OS: Facebook's Katie Harbath on protecting election integrity.

[3] Ong, J.C., Fallorina, R., Lanuza, J.M.H., Sanchez, F., & Curato, N. (2022). Parallel Public Spheres: Influence Operations in the 2022 Philippine Elections. The Media Manipulation Case Book. Internews and Harvard Kennedy School Shorenstein Center. Retrieved from 

[4] Ressa, M. A. (2016). Propaganda War: Weaponizing the internet. Rappler. Retrieved from

[5] Deinla, I. B., Mendoza, G. A., Ballar, K. J., & Yap, J. K. (2022). The link between fak news susceptibility and political polarization of the youth in the Philippines. Asian Journal of Political Science, 30(2), 160–181.

[6] Mendoza, G. B. (2021). Networked propaganda: How the Marcoses are using social media to reclaim Malacañang. Rappler. Retrieved from

[7] Moss, D. (2022). Analysis | the powerful machine that brought Bongbong to victory. The Washington Post. Retrieved from

[8] Lanuza, J.M.H., Fallorina, R., & Cabbuag, S. (2021). Understudied Digital Platforms in the Philippines. Internews. Retrieved from

[9] Chua, Y. T. (2022). Digital News Report | Philippines. Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. Retrieved from

[10] Chua, Y. T. (2021) Media and disinformation in the Philippines. In Chua, Y., Curato, N., & Ong, J. Information Dystopia and Philippine Democracy (p. 42p. 42). Internews. Retrieved from

[11] Brabham, D. C. (2013). Crowdsourcing. The MIT Press.

[12] Curato, N. (2021) After disinformation. In Chua, Y., Curato, N., & Ong, J. Information Dystopia and Philippine Democracy (p. 42p. 42). Internews. Retrieved from

External Links