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Just yesterday, Facebook announced that they’ve taken down around 200 pages, groups and accounts which boasted a massive number of following which accounts to more than 3 million people all around the world. These copious inter-connected network of fake news sites, trolls and pages have already been theorized and reported by established news organizations such as Rappler and even academics from the US calculated that Duterte spent more than 10 million pesos to fund his social-media army during the 2016 Presidential campaign.
“..These fake accounts pushed political messaging that promoted their candidate or attacked political opponents. The fake accounts behaved as if they were real persons, and majority of the time, those who followed the fake accounts or saw the comments of these fake accounts believed that they were real — Facebook’s head of cybersecurity / Nathaniel Gleicher..“
I’ve already warned many people about the use of automated trolls along with it’s complex fake-news distribution networks as well as the thought that not everyone they interact on Pro Duterte pages and sites were real people but were just fake accounts or machine-operated trolls. Perhaps, you’ve heard this from Leni Robredo when she mentioned that these accounts who comments negatively against her as well as harasses her supporters and or anyone who tries post things in her favor. According to her, these are ”well-oiled propaganda” machine orchestrated by none other than Duterte himself and funded by his political allies.
Pro Duterte Fake News Networks poisoned millions of Filipinos
The raging social-media machine which so far controlled a large swathes of similarly vile, misogynistic and arrogant followers who attacks anyone who dares criticizes their Tatay Digong to a point that they’ve received death threats or their profile photos stolen and then edited to make fun about their appearance. These attacks were even more emboldened as Duterte himself defended his troll armies saying that it’s actually an exercise of ‘free speech’. Or is it?
Many of his supporters would use age-old Pro Duterte myths to further their own claim and quash dissenting opinions. Anyone who knows less about current political events would easily fall prey to these troll army and be slowly manipulated to be one of their willing compatriots. The problem is that though we can wallow in Duterte fake exploits and fantastic stories about his supposed achievement. The fact still remains that the country is reeling in extreme economic turmoil and our territories were shamelessly encroached and invaded by China which ironically was Duterte’s best friend. If you try and go to the public market — you can instantly see the sudden leap of prices and how this has affected the lives of every ordinary Filipino but still the Pro Duterte myths lived on embezzle the people’s consciousness.
In a statement published by Facebook, here are some of the posts published by Duterte’s social-media manager.
According to experts. Gabunada may have published non-political fake news stories but these are just part of his strategy to attract a larger number of following in different demographics. Which was actually working well and attracted more than 4 million people notwithstanding perhaps even more than 10 to 20 million in combined post impressions or reach.
This coincided with Juan Luna’s Cyber Edsa Software report
In my previous blog posts. I warned the ever increasing number of fake news networks and trolls swarming up Philippine social-media scene and is poised in engulfing every demographics and manipulating every online individual who’s currently hooked into the Internet today. The problem is that these networks is overlapping and sometimes even pretending to be legitimate news sources themselves confusing people and causing mass disinformation. If unchecked, these accounts, pages and sites will continue to divide the Filipino people to serve their masters best interest.
(Here’s an infographic from Philstar)
I’ve never been proven wrong about this and that according to data acquired from Cyber Edsa. There will be more pages and accounts currently being created and assembled by Duterte’s well-funded social-media army. And there will be more to come to replace this lost. Facebook greatly underestimated the capacity of these agencies to maximize their output and regain the initiative by using another type of strategy which will surely go past their radar and impossible to detect.
Fake News networks and trolls can swing votes
Little do people know is that social-media is so powerful. Whether you like it or not. It’s power reaches out to every corner of the country and people receives repetitive well-targeted messages everyday through which slowly shapes their political biases in accordance to the operators of these propaganda networks. Traditional methods of debunking fake news and responding to these messages is missing out. Just a whisper in the chaotic space of social-media. Alas! There are surefire ways that we can retaliate and help Facebook take these troll accounts and pages down and the best to do just that is to start reporting these pages.
Imagine if all the people in the Philippines started reporting pages like Mocha Uson Blog as fake news? The overwhelming voting power would prompt Facebook to investigate and take into account all of the fake news stories that she herself published throughout the years. If you want to help — do it now. Report fake news when you see them on your wall. Be a responsible netizen. 🙂