Roque: No official funding for online trolls
The government does not fund online trolls to defend the administration and attack its critics or skew discussion in the Internet, Malacañang said on Wednesday.
“I can assure you that there is no budgetary line item for payment of trolls in the social media as far as this administration is concerned,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing in Malacañang.
“And again I can only point to myself as living proof that there cannot be any official funding or even sanction on the activities of pro-Duterte trolls because as I said, had this been the case, then we would have prevented the vicious attacks against me,” he added.
The spokesperson, however, emphasized that the government continues to maximize the usage of social media to boost the administration’s accomplishments.
“So we continue to utilize social media in promoting the accomplishments and the messages of the administration,” he said.
“Obviously, we don’t use it for partisan or political purposes because there’s no election until 2022,” he added.
Last week, American news network MSNBC reported on how fake news spread through Facebook played a huge role in Duterte’s successful election campaign in 2016.
In the 10-minute segment, MSNBC’s The Beat news anchor Ari Melber reported that Facebook flew three of its employees to the Philippines who spent a week holding training sessions with candidates’ campaign team, including Duterte’s.
“But giving tips to a few campaigns in a constitutional democracy can be different in giving tips to this authoritarian, Duterte. And Facebook learned that quickly,” Melber said.
“In fact, after his team got that Facebook briefing, his allies went into overdrive pushing fake news and accounts, along with his wider campaigns. And that brings us back—guess who—well, it’s the Pope,” he added.
Melber cited the widely-shared fake news on March 22, 2016 about Pope Francis endorsing Duterte—a similar story that made rounds online in the United States with the Pope endorsing then-presidential candidate Donald Trump just before their polls in November 2016.
“And this is basically a kind of a sign that if you get a Pope endorsement, you are the fake news candidate,” he emphasized.
Roque had disputed the report, asserting that all candidates in the 2016 national elections utilized social media for their campaigns. /kga
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