Oxford University, which ranks consistently among the top five universities in the world, has recently been dismissed as a “school for stupid people” by no less than the brash-talking Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte.
The 72-year-old leader’s pronouncement was reportedly a response to a study from the institution that exposed his use of “keyboard trolls” which allegedly boosted his popularity on social media.
Oxford University, ranked number 1 in Times Higher Education’s 2016 list, did a recent study on how governments around the world allegedly use fake social media accounts to sway public opinion and advance political agenda.
The research has found that Duterte paid $200,000 in 2016 for an online army of trolls to launch a social media campaign to influence civilians and groups to back his every move online.
Responding to a question by news outlet Rappler about Oxford’s research called “Troops, Trolls, and Troublemakers: A Global Inventory of Organised Social Media Manipulation,” Duterte lashed out, claiming he no longer needs it.
While he has admitted to doing so during the campaign period, he claims that it has been discontinued once he was elected.
“Now I do not need it. I do not need to defend myself against attacks. I stated my piece during my inauguration and my campaign. Oxford University? That’s a school for stupid people,” Duterte was quoted as saying.
The report, however, has found that many of the so-called “keyboard trolls” hired to spread propaganda for presidential candidate Duterte during the election have continued their purpose of spreading posts supporting his policies even after his victory.
Duterte, whose presidential campaign focused on a so-called tough stance against drugs and crime, has remained popular despite thousands of deaths in his nationwide anti-drug crackdown.
Losing Philippine vice presidential candidate and staunch Duterte ally Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. once claimed he earned a “diploma in political science” from Oxford University, which turned out to be a “special diploma in social studies,” not political science.
Feature image via Wikimedia Commons / Philippine Presidential Communications Operations Office