[Newton Tech4Dev Network] Architects of Networked Disinformation: Behind the Scenes of Troll Accounts and Fake News Production in the Philippines

“We were initially curious about the kind of people who become ‘paid trolls’ and how they manage to live with that stigma,” said Ong. “Meeting the people behind fake Facebook accounts, we learned that there is actually a professionalized hierarchy with ad and PR strategists at the top.”

The Newton Tech4Dev network, with researchers from University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Leeds (U.K.) released a news research report on disinformation in the Philippines. The report, aptly titled “Architects of Networked Disinformation: Behind the Scenes of Troll Accounts and Fake News Production in the Philippines,” delivered seven key findings which includes: (1) the use of fake accounts and paid influencers on Facebook and Twitter for political operations is widespread, (2) politicians often employ campaign strategists from local “boutique” advertising and PR agencies as chief architects of networked disinformation campaigns, (3) Ad and PR strategists delegate political marketing responsibility, (4) disinformation workers are financially, politically, socially, and psychologically driven in different ways, (5) operating fake accounts for politicians involves similar modes of always-on, flexible, and (self-)exploitative arrangements as other online freelance work, (6) networked disinformation campaigns operate with two opposing dynamics in play, and (7) while nobody really admits to being a troll, everyone in the disinformation hierarchy seems to be engaged in various degrees of trolling.

For the full report, visit Newton Tech4Dev Network here.

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