A STUDY BY University of Oxford says that a characteristic of “cyber troops” in the Philippines is using fake accounts to spread propaganda for President Duterte during the 2016 election and even now that he is in power.
Philippines is one of the 28 countries in the world that uses “cyber troops” to manipulate public opinion identified in the study entitled “Troops, Trolls and Troublemakers: A Global Inventory of Organized Social Media Manipulation.”
This study defines cyber troops as “government, military or political party teams committed to manipulating public opinion over social media.”
Others on the list are Argentina, Azerbaijan, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, China, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, Germany, India, Iran, Israel, Mexico, North Korea, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Korea, Syria, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, Venezuela, and Vietnam.
The study also cites other traits said to be found in the Philippines:
Both “positive” and “negative” social media interactions are used. “Positive” interactions are those that “reinforce or support the government’s position or political ideology” while “negative” interactions involve “verbal abuse, harassment and so‐called ‘trolling’ against social media users who express criticism of the government.”
“Individual targeting,” which it says is more often “a persistent aspect of the internet ecosystem that is used to silence political dissent online” and is “one of the most dangerous forms of cyber troop activity, as individuals often receive real‐life threats and suffer reputational damage.”
Some cyber troops in the Philippines are volunteers; some are paid. Private contractors have been hired, with Nic Gabunada—Duterte’s social media campaign manager– being identified. The Partido Demokratiko Pilipino‐Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) was also identified as a political party that has made use of cyber troops.
Gabunada said that Duterte’s P10 million social media campaign, however, was “organic and volunteer-driven.”