Paid keyboard army

By: Editorial November 15,2017 - 11:02 PM

A US journalist’s piece on the supposed “keyboard army” employed by President Rodrigo Duterte to prop up his administration coincided with a confrontation by a pro-Duterte blogger against a BBC news correspondent on the sidelines of the ongoing Asean summit.

This so-called “keyboard army” of paid and unpaid “online trolls” generate a daily amount of propaganda to support the Duterte administration and its vicious war against illegal drugs which had drawn attention and response from world leaders despite the administration’s attempts to downplay it during the summit.

A piece by reporter Sean Williams of the New Republic about the “keyboard army” also dovetailed into a report by the US-based human rights group Freedom House about how much was supposedly being paid to the pro-Duterte bloggers to provide a daily dose of propaganda in social media.

Freedom House said these online trolls were being paid P500 or US$10 a day to as high as P2,000 to P3,000 a day or US $40 to $60 just to make small online comments of support to the administration and troll or insult those criticizing the President and his policies.

Of course these reports will be refuted vehemently by pro-Duterte supporters as being anti-American propaganda or something and worse, some within their ranks will even engage in a confrontation with those who wrote these pieces.

Exhibit A was the totally embarrassing confrontation between that pro-Duterte blogger named Sass Sassot who claims thousands of supporters and yet felt insulted that BBC interviewed a “minor blogger” accused of being a supporter of the previous administration instead of her as gleaned from her harangue with BBC news correspondent Jonathan Head.

If these paid keyboard trolls aren’t busy confronting legitimate mainstream media practitioners and getting media exposure and interviews afterward, they work overtime spreading lies like touting a news report claiming that American actor Matt Damon supports the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.

Bu it’s not just the Philippines where an online keyboard army exists. Freedom House noted that China and Russia had employed their own cyber armies to monitor and suppress dissent and spread administration propaganda to shore up support for their governments.

Given that knowledge, how does the ordinary citizen with access to information at his or her fingertips deal with it?

One has the choice to either ignore, shut down or report these trolls and abusive behavior to social media giants like Facebook, Twitter and the like so they can be dealt with.

This “keyboard army” will employ all the tools and resources at their disposal to feed the masses with their online daily dose of propaganda, but they can never quench free will and discerning minds.

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