A joke claiming that the University of the Philippines will be turned into a mall is misleading online

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A joke about the sprawling campus of Philippine State University (UP), supposedly converted into the world’s largest shopping mall, has been repeatedly shared on Facebook – and misled some social media users. A university official told AFP the claim was false and “goes against UP’s legal mandate”.

“The UP Diliman campus will be converted into the world’s largest mall!” reads a screenshot shared on Facebook on May 13.

It features an image of a building at UP’s main campus in Diliman, in the country’s capital region, overlaid with the text “Great Mall of the Philippines”.

The Tagalog caption of the post translates to: “Boom.. It’s now UP Mall..”

Screenshot of misleading Facebook post taken May 24, 2022

The post circulated online after UP student leaders called for a walkout to protest the results of the 2022 Philippine presidential election.

The May 9 vote saw Ferdinand Marcos Jr, son of the country’s late dictator, win a landslide victory in a stunning reversal of the fortunes of the Marcos family from presidential palace to pariahs and back again in the space of a few decades.

Similar posts were also shared on Facebook here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Some social media users appear to have believed the posts.

“That’s a great idea,” one commented.

“Shut it down, it’s been giving the government headaches for a long time,” said another.

A Google keyword search, however, found the screenshot to match an article posted on satirical blog “The Adobo Chronicles” here on May 10.

A disclaimer on the blog reads in part: “The Adobo Chronicles is your source for amazing, up-to-date news. Everything you read on this site is fact-based, except for lies.

“We uphold the highest standards in creative writing.”

Several blog posts were falsely presented as genuine news in posts debunked by AFP here, here and here.

Responding to the misleading messages, Dr Elena Pernia, UP’s vice president for public affairs, told AFP: “There are no plans to convert any of the campuses of the University of the Philippines into shopping malls now or in the future.

She added that the assertion in the posts is “unrelated to the functions of any institution of higher learning” and “runs contrary to UP’s legal mandate as defined in RA 9500.”

RA 9500 is the Philippine law that defines the institutional purpose of the UP. The full text of the law can be found here.

Edwin S. Wolfe