Soldiers taking selfie photos with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in an army camp in Mindanao. Photo from the Facebook page of Presidential Communications (Government of the Philippines).
A University of Oxford study has caused uproar in the Philippines for examining the administration of Rodrigo Duterte's efforts to manipulate social media through trolling and fake accounts.
The findings confirmed what government critics have long suspected while stirring harsh denials by the president's supporters.
Duterte himself, however, later said in a press conference that he had in fact hired online commenters during the election.
Entitled “Troops, Trolls and Troublemakers: A Global Inventory of Organized Social Media Manipulation”, the July 2017 study by Samantha Bradshaw and Philip N. Howard focused on the use of cyber troops or troll armies by governments, the military, and political parties in 28 countries.
The researchers made an inventory of the kinds of messaging, tools and communications strategies used across countries as well as the different organizational forms that were deployed by those in power to manipulate public opinion through social media.
They found that in the Philippines, pro-Duterte trolls were engaged in flooding social media with pro-government comments while harassing and trolling social media users with contrary opinions by using of fake accounts and automated bots.