Here’s why it’s hard to feel sorry for ‘unmasked’ anonymous bloggers…

It’s a jungle out there, so goes the words of caution that we, our elders, and friends often throw out. Once we step outside our comfort zones, we soon realize – usually the hard way – that the world outside them is unforgiving, brutal, and not for the faint of heart. Whatever rules and conventions of civility seem to exist, survival of the fittest has been a constant natural principle. Survival of the fittest is more succinctly explained in three words: “adapt or die”.

The landscape of social media today – in particular, Facebook and Twitter – is not much different. Especially in the subsection involved in political observation/punditry.

Subscribe to our Substack community GRP Insider to receive by email our in-depth free weekly newsletter. Opt into a paid subscription and you'll get premium insider briefs and insights from us.
Subscribe to our Substack newsletter, GRP Insider!
Learn more

What does this have to do with the topic of ‘unmasked’ anonymous bloggers? Well, everything.

Unfortunately for the blog SilentNoMorePH (SNM), known for being critical of president Rodrigo Duterte, it may have finally bitten off more than it can chew. SNM had attracted a lot of attention recently when certain senators had taken issue with being tagged as “Malacañang Dogs”, among them Tito Sotto. Sotto in particular stands out, because of his insertion of a libel clause into RA 10175 (the Cybercrime Act) a few years ago. Sotto, back then, had gained quite a bit of media mileage, and notoriety, with netizens who perceived him as pikon when faced with online criticism.

SNM was thrust into the spotlight again soon after, when blogger Thinking Pinoy (TP) dedicated an entire article to presenting a case that, SNM was not only owned by Cocoy Dayao, but that he was also involved in, if not directly responsible for, creating content for several other blogs critical of the Duterte administration, among them Pinoy Ako Blog (PAB). Dayao is a former consultant for the PCOO (Presidential Communications Operations Office) during former president Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino’s term.

Among the anti-Duterte camp, Yellows and supporters of the Liberal Party have stood above the rest in exposing other bloggers whose ideas they don’t agree with. They do this in the hope of shaming and silencing them, and inciting others to “extract accountability” – which can go as far as inflicting physical harm – from the unmasked bloggers. TP was one of those whose identity was unmasked – “nabulatlat” – because of his open support for president Duterte. A similar thing had happened to Get Real Post webmaster benign0, and Ilda, the site’s most prominent writers, simply because Yellows disagreed with their criticism of BS Aquino.

TP and SNM are comparable cases of “unmasked” anonymous bloggers. The difference between them, however, lies in how they reacted to being unmasked. TP owned it, shrugged it off, and though he may face occasional threats to his life, continues to write, inform, and break down complex ideas for his readers to this very day. SNM, on the other hand, according to another pro-Duterte blogger, Sass Sasot, has been busy issuing half-baked admissions, and removing any traces on the websites that have been linked to him.

Predictably, the Yellows cried foul, again. They have lamented that the “unmasking” of SilentNoMore/ PinoyAkoBlog is tantamount to silencing dissent against the Duterte administration. Never mind that, clearly, their own aim in unmasking unallied anonymous bloggers is to get them to shut up.

What Yellows conveniently keep neglecting, however, is that standing and credibility as dissent are not entitlements; they are earned. I say this with a bit of pride because I, along with other GRP writers, earned the stripes by being consistently focused on ideas regardless of who the dominant personalities in Filipino society and politics have been.

Now an obvious question is just begging to be asked: Can anyone objectively explain, why exposing Thinking Pinoy was ok, but doing the same with SilentNoMore/PinoyAkoBlog is not?

Before we get around to finally resolving the questions posed in both the title and in the previous paragraph, let’s elaborate more on how the Yellow playbook on anonymous bloggers has evolved (or not) since the time of the former administration.

Quite simply, the way LP supporters and Yellows regard anonymous blogging is self-serving and hypocritical. They are quick to get behind any anonymous blog that says what they like to hear, but are unsurprisingly hostile and condescending towards those they don’t agree with. How so? They pull out the “use your real name” card and insist that the blog does not have any credentials and standing to say what it says.

Because mainstream media (MSM) is predominantly sympathetic to the Aquinos and the LP, they are quick to label any other voice that contradicts them as fake news, never mind that these media outfits are themselves habitually into spinning their reportage, and passing off their opinions as news. Many blogs, on the other hand, are by nature opinion sites, with GRP falling into this category. Those who have followed GRP for quite some time know that it is not the blog’s objective to replace MSM, but to offer an alternative point of view to the heavily co-opted one promoted by MSM. People come to sites like GRP for the diversity of views and insight that its independent writers offer.

Of course, this does not sit well with the so-called thought leaders, who would like the monopoly on influence among social media and internet users. Which is how the fake news scare, and the race to silence opposing views, came about. Even RA 10175 mentioned previously was used in the hope of scaring BS Aquino’s online critics into submission. And yet, I can hardly remember any news about bloggers who were sued, or filed a case against, from that time. I wonder why. One thing I would like to believe, though, is that the lack of cases and the buzz surrounding them is not necessarily the critics’ fault.

Anonymous bloggers, like myself, realize that they have to prepare for eventually being unmasked themselves. I say this with utmost cynicism because there are no secrets in the Pinoy Paradise. For me, however, it is hard to feel sorry for unmasked bloggers because they should know very well the risks involved in making their thoughts public. Eventually someone influential is going to get offended by what you write, and will do everything to make you pay; the best defense is to make sure your writing is factually grounded and logically holds water. Writing founded on innuendo and unverified information is the kind that will definitely get you into trouble.

Anonymity shouldn’t really be a big determinant of credibility; the degree of intellectual honesty in the writing is. It is up to every writer to check, double check, to self-edit, and to be accountable for their work. It is up also up to every writer to be transparent about the objectives and vested interests that will influence their writing. Unfortunately, bloggers – especially those who write merely for the self-fulfillment of it – are uncontrollably dragged into the bad reputation that “paid hacks” incur – those who write to do hatchet jobs against designated targets.

If only Filipinos were more intellectually honest, self-accountable, and genuinely agenda free, then perhaps they wouldn’t have to deal with this mess of fake news, gaslighting, political correctness, and influence-peddling that they currently find themselves in.

As a final word, here’s something to think about: if unmasking you does indeed “silence” your dissent, then perhaps it was inherently flawed and unsustainable to begin with.

11 Replies to “Here’s why it’s hard to feel sorry for ‘unmasked’ anonymous bloggers…”

  1. I find your last paragraph, that is, final word, totally and absolutely true. Thanks for such an interesting write up.

  2. The internet runs in HyperSpace ( CyberSpace); it is like a dark space in the outer space, where we can talk (write), everybody can hear(read) us; but we can remain unseen, if we want to remain anonymous. We are invisible to all…

    It is very hard to unmask Bloggers, who are smart to hide their anonymity. If they are smart as they can be; there is no way to unmask them. If they know how the worldwide web operates : it is harder to unmask them. Lastly, if they are Information Technology expert: it is impossible to unmask them.

    You can pass all the laws against these anonymous Bloggers. Your laws , do not mean anything to them…

    The Aquino running dog : Cocoy Dayao is stupid. He ran several websites; and he is always Pro Aquino Cojuangco political axis. Then he is involved with “Trililing” Trillanes, who , is himself stupid.

    This is the beauty of the Social Media. Any citizen, can log into the computer and write what is in his/her head. It can be with sense; with nonsense; or with ignorance..

    Any citizen , can attack any politician with impunity.

    It is up to the Reader to Think, if what he/she reads in the blog/twitter/facebook or any social media outlet, is True or Not. The Reader has the Final Decision of what to believe …this makes people to think, what they are reading in any Media Outlet !

  3. Social Media will always be with us. Politicians who are Crooks are afraid of Social Media.

    They are like cockroaches scampering to hide, when we shine light on them…

    The Aquino Cojuangco political axis is terrified by social media !

  4. Well, the Dilawan affiliated oppositionists don’t have anything more to lose (in terms of credibility). On the other hand, the “majority” that supports the current administration are more vulnerable than they realize. If any of the big influencers turn out to be not- so-credible, that will create a big confusion. Nobody wants that kind of setback esp. when we thought we’ve been liberated from the monopoly on info by the MSM.

  5. On the manner in which local media should be conducted, so as to be most useful, I should answer, ‘by restraining it to true facts & sound principles only.’

    Yet I fear such local media would find few subscribers. It is a melancholy truth, that a suppression of the press could not more completely deprive the nation of its benefits, than is done by its abandoned prostitution to falsehood.

    Nothing can now be believed which is seen in local media. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day.

    I really look with commiseration over the great body of my fellow citizens, who, reading/listening/surfing local media, live & die in the belief, that they have known something of what has been passing in the world in their time; whereas the accounts they have read in local media are just as true a history of any other period of the world as of the present, except that the real names of the day are affixed to their fables.

    General facts may indeed be collected from them, but no details can be relied on. I will add, that the man who never looks into local media is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. He who reads nothing will still learn the great facts, and the details are all false.

  6. ” People come to sites like GRP for the diversity of views and insight that its independent writers offer.”

    Well said. I try to make it so that I open both GRP and at the same time and read articles from both sites. That way I will have seen as many news as possible from Mainstream Media and Opinion sites.

    I read ThinkingPinoy’s articles as I am quite impressed with his write-ups. Well detailed and informative. While his alignment as pro-Duterte means that he would mostly only attack the “other side”, I could always look for other places whenever I want to see dirt on the Duterte side.

    But that said, most if not all of anti-Duterte write-ups I’ve seen are mostly rantings and generally unpleasant to read. It’d be great if the opposition could make respectable articles that are professionally written, with references that can be cross-checked, and try to be as objective as possible.

    Postscript: whenever you feel you want to make your IQ drop, just head over to Inquirer’s comment section.

    1. Better go to 4chan rather than the Inquirer’s comment section. The latter is more like it’s a shitposting cesspool far more worse..

  7. Indeed, using a pseudonym is not necessarily an approach to evade accountability. If you build stability around a pseudonym or online avatar or identity, you can actually turn it into a trusted brand, just like many of GRP’s writers had by sustaining long-term continuity and consistency in the use of their respective online handles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.