EXCLUSIVE: Russian disinformation system influences PH social media

Category: Best data-driven reporting (small and large newsrooms)

Country/area: Philippines

Organisation: Rappler

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 22/01/2019

Credit: Gemma Mendoza, Vernise Tantuco, Michael Bueza, Glenda Marie Castro

Project description:

The story looked into links between the disinformation ecosystems in the Philippines and Russia. Among these is a supposed “geopolitical expert” named Adam Garrie. The Daily Sentry referred to Garrie in 41% out of its mentions of “experts” in its posts.​

Based on a diagram in a New Knowledge report, Garrie also contributes to websites with ties to GI Analytics, one of the Russian propaganda pages most promoted by Internet Research Agency ad accounts on Facebook.

Impact reached:

Some of the pages that were connected to The Daily Sentry were among the pages taken down by Facebook in early January 2019.

Techniques/technologies used:

We used our own social media monitoring tool to determine the pages and websites connected to The Daily Sentry and related disinformation channels. We then visualized these networks using Flourish.

What was the hardest part of this project?

The hardest part was collecting data on each of The Daily Sentry’s numerous posts and identifying which ones cited so-called “experts.” To speed up this process, we used a script to scrape the website for headlines and metadata. We then sorted the data according to keywords and manually looked at each article to check who the “expert” cited was.

What can others learn from this project?

Disinformation networks in one country may be connected or at least helped along by foreign disinformation networks.

Project links: