[FoME] Report: Fake News Production in the Philippines

Christoph Dietz Christoph.Dietz at CAMECO.ORG
Di Feb 20 10:24:08 CET 2018

Architects of Networked Disinformation: Behind the Scenes of Troll
Accounts and Fake News Production in the Philippines
By Jonathan Corpus Ong (U of Massachusetts) and Jason Vincent Cabanes
(U of Leeds)

This 82-page report is produced by a British Council-funded
ethnographic project that gained unprecedented access to the shadow
industry of  political trolling in the Philippines. Based on one year of
interviews and observation of high-level strategists and fake news
authors, we mapped out a highly organized and professionalized
hierarchy—what we call the “architecture of networked
disinformation”. While online trolling in the Philippines has been
attributed to high-profile bloggers who support President Rodrigo
Duterte and amplify his offensive and misogynist speech, the real "chief
architects of disinformation" hide in plain sight. Holding respectable
day jobs as top executives in ad and PR agencies, their political side
hustles—undisclosed and unregulated—are an industry open secret.

The study sketches ethnographic portraits of disinformation architects
to shed light on their work routines, social and financial motivations,
as well as the mental acrobatics they make to justify morally sketchy
work. It identifies the vulnerabilities in the creative industries and
particularly the digital influencer industry that have not only enabled
disinformation work but made it financially rewarding.

The Philippines, with its highly organized digital labor force
represents a “stockpile of digital weapons” that have potentially grave
consequences to democracies in the West. The report outlines preliminary
policy recommendations and argues against a one-size-fits-all approach
to disinformation interventions in global context.

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