Duterte, Mocha and trolling

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lumen-solisLESS than four decades after press freedom was restored by the Edsa People Power Revolt and the 1987 Constitutions, trolls have come to destabilize its foundation and establish not only a platform of hate but also a vicious arena of misconception and misinformation.

Journalists and other media experts have been steadily harassed by spiteful fake accounts barking incomprehensible accusations of revisionism and alteration of news.

Many of these social media accounts fanatically defend President Duterte whose arrogance and brashness seem to have rubbed off on his online and print champions.

Over all, the President and his fanatics’ hate speech have contributed to a new level of negativity in the online world. Trolls eager to defend Duterte attack other users with ad hominem and other hurtful remarks.

Online assaults range from personal attacks to misogyny, racism, and sexism.

Many of these trolls are steered by an entertainer whose Facebook account is prominent for pornographic advice, Mocha Uson. Not content with being a talentless member of the mediocre all-girl band Mocha Girls, which has made a name for itself catering to the lewd and prurient instincts of the rowdy men like Digong and his misogynistic lot, she has shifted to ranting about Philippine politics in her social media accounts and supporting Duterte no matter what.

Trolls have circulated the internet. Many have remained anonymous, but some like Mocha Uson have become celebrated as much for their zealous trolling as for their shameless stupidity.

But stupidity is so infectious so that Uson has 4.5 million followers on Facebook, whose high number of “likes” show that Netizens consider her “news” reliable and trustworthy.

It is horrendous to see people consider her as a more reliable source of information just because of the hefty number of followers she has on Facebook. But for the Philippine nation, the social-media capital of the world, stupidity is a mark of national identity, it seems.

Uson could not be readily identified as a troll in her early days as an unyielding supporter of the president as she had her personal profile even before the start of the campaign. But her troll identity became evident when random profiles started defending Uson whenever condemnatory posts about her or Duterte were put up online. A user cited them to have the same garden-cover photos and Korean actresses as their profile picture while others limited their pictures to a shot of the Philippine flag or various sceneries from around the world.

Trolls have also defended the Libingan ng mga Bayani burial for deposed President Ferdinand Marcos and invented information and accounts to paint a rosy picture of the dictatorship when the truth of history is that the Marcos era was a sordid period of naked abuse of human rights, of unmitigated plunder and corruption that bankrupted the country.

The war is not limited to the pro-Duterte rallies and protests; misinformation is seeping through the wires of the Internet. Netizens should exert more effort to check facts and follow the criteria of truth. What we need is fact-checking and truth-telling, not trolling.

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