Luczon: Word war trolls (Part 2)

Nef Luczon

IT STARTED in the Senate Resolution 516, a resolution that urges
President Rodrigo Duterte to find means to stop the killings of children or those aged below 18 years. This was signed by 16 senators.

Except for the seven: Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and
Senators Manny Pacquiao, Richard Gordon, Tito Sotto, Cynthia Villar,
Miguel Zubiri and Gregorio Honasan. Most of them were identified as political allies of the president.

Not soon enough, the blunder of not signing the resolution by the seven senators were subjected to an online defamation calling them sinister names from blog sites identified as anti-administration: Silent No More PH, Madam Claudia, Change Scamming, and Pinoy Ako Blog among others. This led some senators into an uproar and called on investigating who are the operators of these blogs.

Interestingly, the blogs in question were not listed in the sites considered as “fake news.” Instead, those blogs such as Thinking
Pinoy, Mocha Uson Blog, VovPh, and Mindanation were tagged as fakers.
Even the Facebook page of a known administration supporter Sass Sasot, was labeled as “fake news,” even she has no existing blog site other than the social media presence she has.

Then the pro-admin bloggers released an exposé insinuating that most anti admin-blogs are run by a single person in the name of Edward
Angelo “Cocoy” Dayao, based on the process of tracking online footprints made by Rey Joseph Nieto, the owner Thinking Pinoy, in collaboration with Sasot and the still-anonymous VovPh.

Prior to this whole debacle, the pro and anti-blogs and bloggers, and social media “influencers,” have long been at “war” since Duterte came into power.

The premises in the “Cocoygate” exposé, insinuating that there can be a large group or machinery operating in anonimity as agents of possible anti-government movement, somewhat complement in my research on digital trolls and Philippine elections, which was published in the
December 2016 issue of Philippines Communication Society Review journal.

In the study, most trolls in Facebook comments in news pages mostly supportive on either Bongbong Marcos or Mar Roxas and Liberal
Party, were rabid in arguing to those who didn’t share their views.
These trolls have the potential in putting up websites to amplify their causes, hence, its connection to fake news sites. And here we are now, a year later, at the chasm of fakeries, lies, and post-truth gospel.

Going back, it was during the exclusion of the seven senators on the
Resolution 516, that brought to fore “Cocoygate,” that it has reached its epitome where such extent led to a Senate investigation last
October 4.

It must be noted that other than Sotto’s move to investigate the people behind Silent No More PH and interrogate Dayao, earlier resolutions on fake news was filed by Senators by Antonio Trillanes IV and Francis Pangilinan, both are known critics of this current administration.

However, it turned out that it was more of lynching resource persons
Nieto and Uson by the committee member-senators of information and mass media than actually finding out who Dayao and where he is now (his invitation to attend to the senate hearing was not responded).

In this age where information is everywhere, it is inevitable that not all information we get are truthful, and some may be created with the ultimate purpose to deceive and spread lies, and such lies can become a threat in writing our history.

But in combatting fake news and trolls, we should not be selective or one-sided on which or what sites or sources to be viewed as fake.
Regardless on our political leanings or beliefs, fake news should be treated as one.

The problem now, is that fake news has become a meme that we call or tag anyone or anything as purveyors of false information if it contradicts our point of views. This is something that we should look with an understanding on how to draw thin lines.