Of late, “thought leaders” and “influencers” of the Philippine Opposition have been cheering the removal of a couple hundred Facebook pages associated with Nic Gabanuda, purported “social media manager” of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. The takedown is hailed by the Opposition as a triumph (presumably of their camp) in the so-called “war against disinformation”. However, it is important to note that the basis for this takedown is grounded firmly on the offending pages fitting technical criteria collectively referred to by Facebook management as “inauthentic behaviour”. According to Facebook, inauthentic behaviour is “the use of fake accounts in an organized fashion, along with groups and pages […] to mislead people about the origin of the content they are sharing”.
It is evident that Facebook takes its role as a neutral social media platform seriously and demonstrates that determining authenticity in intent and motivation amongst its users involves the use of precise terms and a deterministic methodology for classifying and taking action on subsets of users. This is the sort of discipline that people who supposedly “lead” the “war against disinformation” seem to fall short of.
A few months back, for example, Vera Files, which styles itself as the Philippines’ “fact checker” par excellence, had been caught out lacking a clear working definition of “fake news” after its head, Ellen Tordesillas awkwardly stammered through a response to a question posed to her by ANC Early Edition host Ian Esguerra. It is quite disturbing, indeed, to find out that an organisation that had made a name for itself judging the authenticity of content on the Web did not have a coherent framework for doing so.
It is therefore quite disturbing that an entire political “opposition” community such as the current one led by the Liberal Party (a.k.a. the “Yellowtards”) claim ownership over the noble cause of battling “disinformation”. It has been long-observed that the Yellowtards consistently lack coherent frameworks to guide their actions. Even today, their lack of a strategic vision to frame their campaign narrative is severely hobbling their bid for much-needed control over the Philippines’ Congress. Interestingly the notion that they are “victims” of said “disinformation” is a key pillar of their stunted rhetoric — and even more interesting that they had not learnt much from the Tordesillas gaffe.
Just recently, one such media personality who is seemingly well-regarded in the Yellowtard community fell afoul of Netizens who are vigilant in applying a critical eye to such glib Opposition rhetoric. Gretchen Ong Ho, “a Filipino volleyball player and television host” who “played for the Ateneo Lady Eagles from 2008-2013” fielded a tweet of that precise nature…
But how can you reason with paid trolls & egg heads? It’s a warfare online, and we’re getting caught in between.
Be smart & discerning, folks.
Don’t let the internet fool you.
Indeed, a baseless assumption that everyone who disagrees with you is a “paid troll” is really not a valid underpinning for a counterargument. In responding this way, Ho and her ilk essentially dismiss an entire community of participants in the democratic process who are well within their rights to air their position on any issue at stake, specially in today’s social media landscape where anyone can, at any time, chime in into any public conversation. The Yellowtards, unfortunately, feel that their community are the only one’s who have valid arguments and are quick to dismiss those who challenge these arguments critically as people who are motivated by dishonest agents. This is quite ironic considering that the Yellowtards and much of the bigger community of Opposition commentators within which they belong are recognised as amongst the most rabid of partisans who owe loyalty to personalities rather than to ideas.
Challenged to cite how she determined who amongst her ctitics are “paid trolls”, Ho has since remained silent — the characteristically cowardly response often observed amongst the high-horsed uppity “influencers” of her ilk. You wonder if the Yellowtards are really out to win an election (by converting votes) or are merely content validating one another’s inbred ideas in those quaint love-ins they engage in within their little echo chambers. Filipinos truly need a better Opposition camp than that.
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