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Hoax posts exaggerate financial scandals

Though it was not completely true, a fake Facebook post shared tens of thousands of times in the Philippines in August claimed that “all students” were eligible for cash handouts of 6,500 pesos ($116

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Thousands of Filipinos believed a post on Facebook that said “all students” could receive 6,500 pesos ($116) as part of a government scholarship program in August. As the archipelago prepared to reopen all schools for the first time since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the posts began to circulate online. However, this is not true. The social welfare agency in the Philippines, which was purportedly the source of the message, has not provided free money to all students.

On August 12, the fake news was published on a Facebook page titled “DSWD 4ps Update.”

The Department of Social Welfare and Development is often referred to by its acronym, DSWD.

You can see the agency’s logo and the caption “GOOD NEWS/ Enlist for the SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM” written in Tagalog.

Every student will receive a $116 cash stipend, a laptop computer, a cell phone at no cost, and a supply package valued at 6,500 pesos. By signing up through the provided links, mothers, too, can receive monthly payments of 7,000 pesos ($125).”

The links appear to take users to a registration page for the freebie, but ultimately take them to external shopping sites.

As schools across the Philippines prepared to reopen after the summer break, the post—which was shared more than 10,000 times before being deleted—spread online.

According to AFP, the archipelago’s schools will reopen in full for the first time since the outbreak in November.

More than 30,000 people shared the fake scholarship offer on Facebook pages that use the DSWD brand (here, here, and here).

The hoax announcement was shared across multiple unverified Facebook pages.

Some of the responses to the posts suggested that readers believed they were advertising an official government subsidy.

“For the sake of my family of seven (five of whom are enrolled in school), I pray that I will be selected as one of the fortunate recipients of DSWD assistance. Please take note of me; this will be a tremendous boon to our household. Many thanks, “written by an individual.

“Hi…

I’m counting on you to help me win this scholarship. Due to financial constraints, I could only complete the first semester “”, another speaker chimed in.

However, the government’s social welfare agency says the posts aren’t true.

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On August 15, the Department of Social Welfare and Development issued the following statement on its official Facebook page: “The Department of Social Welfare and Development asks the public not to trust online posts that were not disseminated from the official social media accounts of the DSWD.”

According to the advertisement, the organization offers financial aid and scholarships for higher learning. The government organization stresses that it has not extended any such offer to the general public.”

The organization claimed that its “Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation” programme was the only way it could help people with their education.

The person seeking aid “must be able to prove that they are suffering from crisis or extreme difficulties like a disaster, calamity, or emergency,” it read.

As debunked by AFP (here, here, and here), the DSWD has been the target of numerous imposter pages spreading hoax posts.

More than a million people follow the agency’s official Facebook page, which displays a blue verified badge and is where official announcements are made.