Parallel Public Spheres: Influence Operations in the 2022 Philippine Elections

The 2022 Philippine presidential election was not only a contest for votes, but a contest between two parallel political realities.

This report discusses the influence operations that played a significant role in shaping political conversation during the elections and contributed to the rise of parallel public spheres. It examines the characteristics and consequences of influence operations in the 2022 presidential election in the Philippines along three structuring arguments:

  1. The term “influence operations” provides a broader frame to identify personalities, platforms, and practices that hack public attention, mobilize publics, and influence electoral outcomes.
  2. Influence operations build on cumulative impacts of longitudinal disinformation.
  3. The main consequence of influence operations in 2022 is the creation of parallel public spheres or two separate information ecosystems aligned with hardened political identities.

The report then offers pathways forward in addressing emerging forms of influence operations through a whole-of-society approach and centering on the experiences of the global south.

The report is co-authored by leading Filipino scholars in global disinformation studies including Dr. Jonathan Corpus Ong (Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts and Shorenstein Center Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School) and Dr. Nicole Curato (Professor, University of Canberra), together with researchers Rossine Fallorina, Jose Mari Lanuza, and Ferdinand Sanchez II.  

This report is also part of a broader research effort that seeks to study new trends in disinformation operations and other digital propaganda in the Philippines. The project is funded by Internews under its Six-Track Engagement Against Disinformation Initiative (STEAD-i).

Parallel Public Spheres: Influence Operations in the 2022 Philippine Elections can also be accessed on the website of the Media Manipulation project at Harvard Kennedy School.

The recording of the formal launch of the report held on October 28, 2022 can be viewed here.

Watch the Recording of the Launch Event: