Troll farms

By last count, 13 senators have signed the resolution calling for yet another investigation into allegations that public funds are being used for the operation of “troll farms” that purportedly manufacturers an endless stream of fake news to prop the image of the Duterte administration and bash its political opponents.

With elections just beyond the horizon — nine months and a few days — this initiative led by LIberal Party senators apparently wants to disable any such capability to influence the public mind on issues. It is fueled by the results of the latest Pulse Asia survey showing incumbent senators at the bottom of the heap facing a real threat of being wiped out of the upper house.

These senators are barking at the wrong tree. “Troll farms” are supposed to manufacture fake news and flood the social media streams to control the flow of public thought. But looking at what is happening in the country and its state of affairs, there is no need for troll farms, and fake news, because good news is flowing with abundance on a daily basis. And the good news is propagated by real Filipinos who want to defend the Duterte administration against the daily slew of disinformation and fake news from the opposite side of the fence.

There are trolls and there are trolls on both sides of the fence. Is there government funding for the pro-Duterte trolls? Maybe. But I don’t think it can be established unless the Senate employs high-tech forensics experts to trace the URLs of known troll accounts. Do these senators think any of the computers used for such a propaganda operation could be traced to Malacanang? I doubt it. Why work from a place that would compromise the operation?

These senators have short memories. About a decade ago, a controversy erupted over the discovery that the office of then Palace communications guru Ricky Carandang was engaged in “social media” propaganda. Carandang purchased expensive Apple Macbooks and Blackberrys for his staff to ensure a steady flow of propaganda on Facebook and Twitter. IG wasn’t born yet, and YouTube not as popular as it is now.

Now that was a real state-funded troll farm. If it’s just putting out press releases and feed to mainstream media, two or three good writers would have sufficed. There really wasn’t that much news emanating from Malacanang anyway. Carandang’s use of social media was pioneering in government propaganda. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t last long in the job. So many controversies enveloped him because of his arrogance, and he was ultimately shown the exit door.

As I mentioned in my YouTube livestream, it is the oligarchy-backed opposition that has a massive infrastructure for fake news. It might not fit into the description of troll farms, but the objective is no different — to misinform and mislead. Mainstream media and celebrities are at the forefront of this high-end troll farm, especially ABS-CBN.

Lest we forget, ABS-CBN, with the guidance of Edwin Lacierda and Abigail Valte, engineered the fake ambush on Miss Kim Chiu on March 4, 2020. With the lights on its franchise dimming, ABS-CBN was scrambling for ideas on how to destabilize the Duterte administration and force his ejection from office. The effort was a flop. And I exposed the fakery of the entire operation.