The Misleading Headlines of GMA7’s and News5’s “Gov’t Keyboard Army” Story

The news websites of GMA7 and News5 published articles with the misleading claim that Washington based NGO Freedom House had published a report where it said that the Duterte Administration was employing “keyboard armies”.

But no where in the Freedom House report titled “Freedom on the Net 2017″ was it specifically and clearly stated that the government or current administration is employing said “keyboard armies”.

Presumably to support the title of GMA7’s news article “PHL gov’t paying ‘keyboard army’ P500 a day to ‘amplify’ public support for drug war —watchdog”, the article quoted an excerpt from a section of the Freedom House report titled “Media, Diversity and Content Manipulation” where it was stated:

“Reports of commenters paid to manipulate the online information landscape increased during the coverage period. News reports citing individuals involved said the commenters, which they characterized as part of a ‘keyboard army,’ could earn at least PHP500 (US$10) a day operating fake social media accounts supporting President Rodrigo Duterte or attacking his detractors,” read the report.

“Other reports put the figure at PhP2,000-3,000 ($40-60) a day.48 Some reports noted the use of automated accounts or bots to spread political content.49 Similar content was also posted by volunteers,” it added.

The first paragraph of the excerpt was referenced to a news article written by Rizal Raoul Reyes & Mia Rosienna Mallari titled “Money and credulity drive Duterte’s ‘keyboard army’,” published in Business Mirror on November 27, 2016. The article contains mostly a narrative from someone named Bert, a self-confessed “Duter-troll” who claims to manage seven Facebook accounts which he uses to promote Duterte.

At no point in the article does Bert say that he is employed by the government and actually points out that, “According to Bert, all he knew was the ‘job order’ came from an avid supporter of Duterte, not from someone working within the political system.”

The second paragraph in the excerpt was referenced to a news article written by Eric S. Caruncho titled “Confessions of a troll” which was published on August 28, 2016 in The article contains a narrative from someone named William who describes “call center” like operations which were aimed at promoting and attacking candidates in political elections.

Just like the article in Business Mirror, there is no mention of “William” being employed by the government.

Given the headlines of the news stories from GMA7 and News5, I had expected the Freedom House report to contain actual evidence of scores of people being employed using government funds to either promote President Duterte or attack his detractors.

But it didn’t.

Just like Carlos Conde’s Human Rights Watch, Freedom House based its report on articles found on the internet and didn’t account for bias as well as other limitations contained in the articles they were referencing to.


Post Author: Paul Farol

Try not to take me too seriously.

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8 Comments on "The Misleading Headlines of GMA7’s and News5’s “Gov’t Keyboard Army” Story"

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This article is an example of digging for technicalities to deny the obvious point that the Duterte admin heavily manipulates social media to bolster popularity. Why would somebody without skin in the game financially invest in the admin to that degree?


Misleading indeed and it should be corrected by the source because it destroy reputation and credibility. I have high regards with gma7 and I am disappointed of this lack of professionalism .

U.S. $10 a day , won’t get you anywhere in the U.S. It is not worth your time blogging, for Duterte. Most Filipinos, who are employed in the U.S., who are well employed, receive more than U.S. $10 an hour. Some receives more than that, on hourly basis. A common Plumber in the U.S. , receives U.S. $50 an hour, or more, depending if you are a journeyman Plumber or expert plumber…. I would rather do Plumbing, than become a ” Duterte Keyboard Army member…”At least. I will earn more… If those AquinoTards, can really understand us, Filipino U.S. OFWs.… Read more »
Don Kamote
Dutertards and Yellowtards are just both kidding themselves. Both camps are accusing each other of trolling and propaganda, but then, when being alleged to something by the other party, these paid hacks from both camps are, as always, readily shift to their denial mode. In reality, they’re both into it! BTW, Is quoting someone/somebody for news articles misleading? GRP writers are also doing that, don’t you think? (That’s when a GRP article’s title is not necessarily exactly about the article’s whole story. Sometimes even an accompanying photograph has nothing to do with an article. Webmaster BenignO, I think, has this… Read more »

Two half truths don’t make one truth.