YouTube videos about Marcos Jr. designed to help him win the election – study

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One study found that narratives about the Marcos Jr. range from popularity with viewers to discrediting the upcoming 2022 presidential election, all to bring a Marcos back to Malacañang

MANILA, Philippines – A study by the Far Eastern University (FEU) Public Policy Center examined the narratives of election-related “alternative videos” on YouTube. They found that Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has the most esteemed results, with content aimed at endearing him to the masses, attacking the other candidates and their supporters, and even discrediting the election.

The study is titled “Narratives and Tactics in Alternative Online Videos” and was authored by Justin Muyot, a technical adviser to the FEU. In his study, Muyot coined the term “alternative videos” to refer to videos produced by content creators, particularly non-traditional media organizations. These videos also contain information that runs counter to mainstream information. An example is vloggers who produce video commentary on current events.

His study came to the following conclusions:

  • Marcos has the highest number of estimated “alternative videos” on YouTube.
  • A conscious attempt is made to center the online discussion on Marcos. Muyot refers to this as the “BBM verse,” which aims to achieve three things: (1) shame other candidates for criticizing Marcos and his supporters, (2) endear Marcos to the public, and ( 3) sow discord between them the other presidential candidates.
  • Alternative videos also aim to discredit other candidates and even the election process.
Where the war is fought

According to YouTube’s report, there are 45 million adult viewers on their platform, representing 68% of registered voters in the 2022 election. This presents a great opportunity for campaigns. The lower barrier to entry for video production and publishing has made it an attractive avenue for vloggers.

The study found that there is a significant surge in YouTube search activity for presidential candidates that coincides with the election. Muyot documented that the initial spike coincided with the release of one-on-one interviews by talk show host Boy Abunda earlier this year.

Muyot’s study also found that among presidential candidates, Marcos ranks first in terms of the estimated number of alternative videos on the platform and third in terms of alternative videos with more than 100,000 views – first being Manny Pacquiao.

Welcome to the BBM verse

Muyot reviewed these videos, which have more than 100,000 views, and found that there is a concerted effort to anchor discussions surrounding Marcos.

These alternative videos usually aim to shame other candidates for criticizing Marcos and his supporters, endear Marcos to the public, and sow discord among the other presidential candidates.

The first goal is achieved through clickbait titles that typically contain the word “pahiya” (shamed) coupled with the contestants openly criticizing Marcos with teletext graphics attempting to shame the contestant. Muyot cites that the victims of such videos were presidential candidates Leody De Guzman, Manny Pacquiao and Leni Robredo.

The second type of alternative video tries to speak directly to voters. These types of videos are typically characterized by hyperbolic titles in which Marcos is deeply moved by his family and followers, coupled with Marcos and his son’s regular interactions with their followers along their motorcades. These videos have also attempted to portray Marcos and his family as victims rather than perpetrators and beneficiaries of human rights abuses.

The third type of videos tries to pit the contestants and their running buddies against each other. Muyot’s study cites videos that focused on the rift between Ping Lacson and fellow campaigner Tito Sotto.

All roads lead to BBM

Muyot’s study also found that alternative videos also discredited scenarios that did not favor Marcos’ candidacy for the presidency. This included direct attacks on the other presidential candidates. These videos range from dangerous claims that presidential candidates are being red-flagged to petty mockery.

Some videos also aim to discredit the electoral process, leaving only room for a Marcos victory in the upcoming elections – with all other results surely being the result of a failed election. One such video even went so far as to claim the involvement of the United States Central Intelligence Agency in the Philippine elections since the 1950s.

Finally, Muyot calls for more attention to these alternative videos. He proposes a way forward focused on supporting and building communities around content creators that complement mainstream information and elevate public discourse.

You can read Justin Muyot’s study on Rappler here. –Rappler.com

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