Filipino netizens’ gags give Harvard’s Facebook stats a boost
MANILA, Philippines — The Facebook page of Harvard University has gained more traction compared to previous weeks, due to a weird phenomenon going on in social media. The university also trended on Twitter recently.
It’s neither the work of hackers nor a paid ad campaign. And it’s not technical glitch.
Rather, it’s a result of young Filipino netizens spamming the Ivy League university’s page.
It’s unclear what started the trend, but hordes of Filipinos started sharing Harvard’s posts to make it appear that they were part or even studied in the institution.
A lot even commented on the posts itself and even engaged people who might actually be Harvard students.
A quick glance at Harvard University’s analytics showed that its total likes grew by 5.6 percent since last week — meaning that it gained 336,000 additional likes, en route to six million.
And while Harvard only made four posts this week, its engagement was at a staggering 18.6 million combined reactions, comments, and shares.
What most netizens did was to share a certain Harvard post and share their supposed “experience” in that area. Case in point, the Harvard campus which had gone quiet due to the COVID-19 outbreak:
A quiet campus.Photo: Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff PhotographerADVERTISEMENT
A lot of people who presumably did not study at Harvard — because information on their Facebook profiles show different schools — said that they missed hanging out at the campus, reviewing for their examinations, and whatnot.
As of this writing, one post attracted over 76,000 shares, 5,000 comments, and over 25,000 reactions.
While Harvard can definitely garner that amount of engagement, most of the comments and shares came from Filipino netizens.
Another post spammed by netizens is a campus photo, on which people made similar remarks.
A solitary reader enjoys the summer day.Photo: Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
This “quiet campus” post appears to be the first Harvard post spammed by netizens, as previous posts and links showed shares around the 200 to 2,500 range, and comments not exceeding the 1,000 mark.
Notably, Filipino netizens skipped spamming posts that centered on studies and research — like the percentage of coffee consumption, and other ideological and public service projects like remembering the movement to give American women voting rights and the impact of the pandemic on women scientists.
The pandemic is taking a toll on women scientists, especially those with young children who work in a lab, a new Harvard Business School study finds.
100 years ago today the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote, was ratified—but African American, Latina, and Indigenous women would not be fully franchised for decades to come.
Some foreigners asked why Filipinos were pretending to be Harvard students, speculating whether it was due to boredom from the stay-at-home policies.
Others were harsher, saying Filipinos have the lowest average IQ in Southeast Asia.
While some Filipinos have taken pride in how they were able to wield influence in a well-known platform just by using social media, others asked netizens to stop their antics as they were bringing shame to the country.
In the comments section, a netizen lamented that it is sometimes so hard to be a Filipino as it was embarrassing.
However, another commenter said that she should be proud, as Filipinos found other things to do instead of focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic.
One female Filipino student who actually had been to Harvard for the Harvard College Project for Asian and International Relations said that, while the trend also confused her, there should be no problem if the jokes were harmless.
But problems would arise when the people in the photos start feeling uncomfortable about being exposed.
“Actually, I can’t understand that trend, why they’re doing it, For me, it’s quite weird because they were sharing photos with actual students’ faces on it. Then, of course, students can’t understand why there are so many reactions and comments to a certain photo,” student, who studied at the University of the Philippines, told INQUIRER.net in Filipino.
“It’s somewhat alarming because the jokes may be uncomfortable for some of the people in the pictures. No problem if it’s harmless. But nowadays people tend to be insensitive just so they could sound witty or funny in social media,” she added.
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