House probe sought on ‘internet troll farms’ for 2022 polls
MANILA, Philippines — Bayan Muna party-list in the House of Representatives is seeking an investigation on the alleged establishment of internet troll farms for the 2022 elections by a certain ranking government official.
Under House Resolution No. 1900, Bayan Muna Reps. Carlos Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite, and Eufemia Cullamat cited an earlier disclosure made by Senator Panfilo Lacson that an undersecretary of an unnamed department is putting up at least two troll farms in every province in a move to discredit critics of the administration and possible opponents in the 2022 elections.
Lacson made the revelation, citing information from a former member of his staff, who was allegedly approached by the official.
The senator said he only learned about this when a former staff member declined the offer and reported it to him.
The proposed probe, in aid of legislation, is requested before the House Committee on Public Information.
“The Philippines has become a haven for internet trolls. The young, educated, English-speaking workforce that made the Philippines a global call center hub has become a go-to center for influencing political campaigns,” the lawmakers said.
“The use of government funds to such projects is not only reprehensible but also an illegal [use] of people’s money. Government officials involved in this sinister act that aims to undermine and subvert our democratic process should be revealed, exposed and be subject to a prompt and impartial investigation,” the lawmakers added.
They said that the manipulation of information in social media “threatens internet freedoms”, adding that such acts has allowed red-tagging which “has resulted in actual killings or incarceration of many, including activists, lawyers, and other government critics.”
“The use of paid commenters and bots to spread anti-democratic propaganda and suppress dissent is dangerous to our democracy and people,” the lawmakers said.
“Most importantly, these troll farms that deliberately peddle lies and disinformation clearly undermine and subvert our democratic processes and institutions, which, Congress should not only denounce but stop,” they added.
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