Watchdog: Social media influencers paid to back Duterte

In the study entitled, “Troops, trolls and troublemakers: A global inventory of organized social media manipulation” it claims that the camp of President Rodrigo Duterte has around 400 to 500 online troops that are posting pro-government content whilst harassing and individually targeting those who oppose the government.
President Rodrigo Duterte / Photo from ABS-CBN

Oxford University stated that the same camp spends an estimated ten million pesos to hire these online troops to spread propaganda material online.

On another note, Freedom House, a US-based human rights organization said in a report that social media commenters are also being paid to support President Rodrigo Duterte. As a matter of fact, from June 2016 to May 2017, there was an increase of reports of commenters being paid to manipulate social media information.

Freedom House said on its recent “Philippines in its Freedom on the Net” report that,

"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 detractor. Other reports put the figure at P2,000-3,000 ($40-60) a day."

Freedom House also mentioned that there are also other cases paid information manipulation that indicates an attempt to cause chaos after President Duterte’s electoral victory last May.

In addition, they stated that last year’s 2016 elections had the most concentrated cases of paid social media activity and that majority of Duterte’s budget was directed to social media campaigns.

"Social media users also admitted to being approached by a supporter of Duterte’s candidacy to 'make noise' and demonstrate his popular backing," Freedom House stated.

The same aforementioned social media commenters still remain today, attacking those who oppose and defending the president.

"Many of the accounts 'continue to spread and amplify messages of support of [Duterte’s] policies now he’s in power,' though it is not clear whether they are working with official government channels," the Freedom House report added.

Freedom House also stated that the, The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines were reportedly attacked after the elections.

"The website of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) was disabled in July 2016 after publishing reports about Duterte’s war on drugs," Freedom House stated.

The organization said that the NUJP treated the attacks as an attempt to silence criticism. Then noted that multiple government websites were also being cyber-attacked, which may lead to an obstruction of information flow to citizens.

"Dozens of government websites were reportedly attacked following the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the territorial dispute between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea," Freedom House said.

And yet, "The origin of the attacks has not been established” Freedom House added. 

Source: Philstar
Watchdog: Social media influencers paid to back Duterte Watchdog: Social media influencers paid to back Duterte Reviewed by Nathan Singson on July 18, 2019 Rating: 5

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