Filipino American group US Filipinos for Good Governance (USFGG) launched a website dedicated to exposing pro-Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. trolls on Facebook after the presidential candidate urged critics to “find me one” last week.
Aiming to fight disinformation in the Philippines, USFGG identified 102 troll accounts using artificial intelligence and public data.
The trolls purportedly coordinate with each other to spread disinformation about presidential candidate and current Vice President Leni Robredo.
“Our country has become extremely polarized through vigorous troll activity,” USFGG Washington D.C. coordinator Eric Lachica said. “Trolls have found fertile ground in weakly regulated social media to saturate the public with disinformation. These lies have been allowed to spread through Facebook for years. Having the presidency decided based on lies that rewrite history and hide the fact that much of this troll activity is state-sponsored would be a tragedy.”
Robredo has been the top target of disinformation, while Marcos, the son of former president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos, is the top beneficiary of disinformation, according to experts.
In an interview with CNN Philippines released on April 26, Marcos denied using trolls to boost his campaign.
“Find me one. Show me one. Just one. They don’t exist,” he said. “You show me the place where there are hundreds of trolls sitting in front of a computer spreading fake news. It doesn’t exist.”
In their recently launched website TrollExposer.com, USFGG described the pro-Marcos trolls as “sophisticated in comparison to the other trolls we’ve found in this election,” adding that “their accounts very often look and may be authentic.”
USFGG determined the three troll activities to be distribution, commenting and filling up profiles or pages with pro-Marcos content. Distribution trolls share content from one page to multiple pages, while commenting trolls use propaganda images or short phrases.
Some of the accounts were revealed to be liking or following Marcos-related pages to create the illusion of real user profiles.
“If we can’t get social media platforms to enforce their own community standards, then we need to act ourselves. It is the right of every person to defend themselves from being manipulated by false information,” USFGG national chair Loida Lewis said. “That’s the reason we turned to Troll Exposer. The spread of harmful disinformation, manipulated narratives, and false propaganda needs to stop.”
The group also called on Meta Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg to remove fake posts and disable the trolls’ accounts on Facebook before the May 9 elections.
In January, Twitter suspended more than 300 accounts linked to Marcos supporters for violating the company’s platform manipulation and spam policy. Last month, Meta also suspended over 400 accounts, groups and pages to eliminate hate speech and misinformation ahead of the elections in the Philippines.
Featured image via Getty