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Public urged to demand transparency from ‘kalye surveys’

MANILA, Philippines — Faculty members of the University of the Philippines School of Statistics have warned against the apparent proliferation of surveys carried out with dubious methods, cautioning the public to be critical of social media personalities “doing their own brand of research.”

In a statement, the UP STAT faculty expressed dismay at the conduct of surveys not based on random sampling, such as “kalye surveys” or man-on-the-street-style surveys done by vloggers, and other “suspicious online surveys” shared on social media. 

These show “cavalier disregard for the principles of data gathering,” the UP STAT faculty said.

“We also witness PR companies, private individuals, and even some media organizations publishing results of surveys with unclear methodologies,” the faculty added.

The UP STAT faculty encouraged the public to be critical of surveys and scrutinize the appropriateness of their sampling techniques, saying that the public should “not immediately accept survey results as they are.”

“Data collection processes may also generate bias, such as when an interviewer purposely affects the answers of the respondents,” the statement read.

The UP STAT faculty also underscored the importance of looking at the timing and context of a survey, who are being asked to participate, the demeanor of the person asking questions and the “control mechanisms implemented to ensure accuracy of the protocols in data collection.”

Kalye surveys became more prominent in the lead-up to the 2022 national elections when several YouTube content creators produced videos of people on the streets stating their preferred choice for president or vice president.

These differ from large-scale mainstream surveys typically conducted by pollsters like SWS and Pulse Asia, which publicly state their methodologies and conduct random sampling to avoid bias.

While survey findings — especially those that strictly adhere to scientific methods —  have been used to support policymaking or scrutinize public opinion of government officials, several studies have also cautioned against interpreting these as fool-proof.

In a 2023 study published in the Journal of East Asian Studies, researchers who