'Slap them with the truth’: Fact-checking website to fight 'fake news' about De Lima

MANILA, Philippines – To fight the spread of often nasty rumors against detained Senator Leila de Lima, her office has launched a website that will counter "fake news" against the lawmaker.

De Lima's office said in a press statement on Saturday, November 16, that the True Leila Project seeks to combat the spread of misleading information about the opposition senator on the internet and to help researchers and journalists confirm the veracity of these claims.  (READ: Propaganda war: Weaponizing the internet)

“It’s difficult to go against a well-funded and well-orchestrated network of people whose obsession is to manufacture and disseminate fake news and outright lies through fake accounts and pages against me,” De Lima said.

“But truth is on my side, I’m confident that these evil forces who continue to poison the public’s minds with their lies will be exposed and stopped.  We just cannot afford to be defeated by our own inaction against their falsehoods,” the senator added.

The website was launched ahead of De Lima's 1,000th day of detention on November 20. She has been detained since February 24, 2017 over what she and her supporters called "trumped-up" drug charges spurred by her criticism of President Rodrigo Duterte's bloody campaign against illegal drugs and his other policies.

De Lima's office said the senator "has systematically been targeted by fake news peddlers aiming to silence her from calling out the excesses of the administration in its all-out war on drugs and tarnish her reputation as a Senator of the Republic."

"We must fight, and the best way to fight them is to slap them with the truth," De Lima said.

Screenshot pf trueleilaproject.com

Screenshot pf trueleilaproject.

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De Lima's office said as what its name implies, the website seeks to present the "'true Senator Leila' – who, aside from being a lawyer and a lawmaker, is also a mother and a staunch advocate for human rights, social justice, and democracy."

The website will also feature written work to disprove false claims against De Lima and her statements on disinformation.

De Lima has indeed been the target of false claims, some of which Rappler has fact checked: (READ: FAQ: All you need to know about Rappler IQ, Rappler's Fact Check Project)

The senator has been denying false rumors about her even before she was detained in February 2017. Congressmen had even considered playing her alleged sex video during a House probe into the proliferation of drugs in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), but De Lima said this evidence was "fake."

De Lima's office envisions the website to become a "one-stop destination for the Filipino populace, including journalists and researchers, to confirm the veracity of the malicious information and false narratives." – Vernise Tantuco/Rappler.com