ELECTIONS 2022: Fil-Americans ask Facebook take down anti-Robredo troll sites

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A person using a laptop for social media interactions with notification icons of hate speech and mean comment on social media such as Facebook.
Icons of mean comments on social media. A group of Filipino-Americans has appealed to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg to remove a network of troll acounts attacking presidential candidate Leni Robredo, saying they are "polluting" Philippine democracy. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

A group of Filipino-Americans has called on Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg to take down a network of trolls attacking Vice President Leni Robredo, saying they pollute Philippine democracy.

On Tuesday (May 3), the US Filipinos for Good Governance (USFGG) launched TrollExposer.com, which identified hundreds of Facebook accounts, pages and groups which share fake news about the presidential contender and call her a communist sympathizer.

According to Inquirer, the website was a response to fellow contender Ferdinand Marcos Jr., currently leading in the polls, and his challenge to show him “where the trolls are”. The former Senator has been accused of hiring troll farms to attack Robredo, which he denies.

Using publicly available data and artificial intelligence, the group traced 136 unique pieces of content (such as posts, pictures, videos), which were shared a cumulative 1,976 times across a network of 737 accounts and 77 pages.

Much of this content comes from the government’s own anti-insurgency task force and its spokesperson Lorraine Badoy, who has claimed that Robredo wants to form a coalition government with communist rebels.

TrollExposer.com ranked the top five accounts (profiles and pages) that pick up red-tagging content targeting Robredo and sharing it, followed by the number of times they have shared it:

1. Domingo Castillo – 202 times

2. Fernando Tolentino – 130 times

3. Federal Party, E Philippines – 53 times

4. Tfn Calce — 52 times

5. Francisco Esguerra — 40 times

These accounts also often share false content with many Facebook pages for overseas Filipino workers and many nonpolitical sites. USFGG added that the attacks appear coordinated and systematic, ramping up in the lead-up to the May 9 elections.

Eric Lachica, USFGG Washington DC Coordinator, said that the Philippines has become "extremely polarized" through vigorous troll activity. “Trolls have found fertile ground in weakly regulated social media to saturate the public with disinformation. These lies have been allowed to spread through Facebook for years.”

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