Look who’s trolling


We’ve seen a gazillion fake news, fake memes, fake announcements this #Halalan2016 season.

There will always be trolls. That’s the downside of the Internet and social media.

Trolls thrive on manipulation, on lies, on scamming gullible folk.

This isn’t hard to do. People will believe most stuff – even embrace conspiracy theories — that validate their own beliefs.

Every professional who conducts workshops on social media will tell Netizens to be wary, to check the original link, to go independently to news websites or accounts allegedly responsible for the suspicious posts. It also helps to check rival news websites.

Even professional journalists have been had. Remember that Oprah comment in the wake of Shamcey’s heart-breaking loss at the Miss Universe pageant? Yeah, some news websites ran that. Even international media outfits have fallen for fake news about the Iraq and Syria conflicts, hurricane Sandy and other big events.

In this last election, even “responsible” elders have deliberately shared fake news, malicious plants that have nothing to do with the errors that come with the 24/7 news cycle.

I remember the hilarious post Vice President Jejomar Binay stash of money found behind a wall. Some friend on Twitter, someone I actually respect, tagged several journalists on a photo post that opened to … nothing. This was during the time when the Mar Roxas camp was gunning for Binay. There was another similar post, dubious even to the untrained eye. But was my friend apologetic? Nah. She said, well, it’s up to you investigative journalists to investigate.

You can understand some kid asking… “ma’am I stumbled on this; is it true?” It’s disappointing to see a communications expert spouting this line.

We’ll save the other trolls for another post.

Let’s focus on communications specialists who show no compunction planting fake news.

Let’s not even talk about such communications specialists blindly scooping up the funny D’ Strafford surveys and passing this on as gospel truth.

It’s the deliberate spread of false news that should set off alarms at the Paris-based Publicis Groupe. Especially false news that drag the country’s Catholic bishops into the fray.

Matec Villanueva, the chief executive officer of Publicis Manila, the local agency of the Publicis Groupe, shared at least two memes with false claims to back up her verbal jabs at Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte’s followers — especially those of the Marcos-loyalist bent — have been responsible for many false plants on social media.

You’d think an advertising CEO would be more discriminating.

There are a million and one charges on can hurl at Duterte, without involving the bishops. It’s not like Netizens live in a vacuum where they can’t check what’s happening on the other side of the bubble.

There’s no understanding such a lapse, unless it’s a matter of, well — friendship — with Mar Roxas.

Here’s what she’s been sharing.

bloc voting 1111

While Catholic bishops have no love lost for Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, they’re not exactly embracing Roxas. In fact, they’re not embracing anyone.

They’ve advised against tendencies by some candidates. Mayhem could be a pointed dig at Duterte. On the other hands, the bishops have also spoken out against the terrible violence unleashed by state forces on the Lumad.

They also warned against crimes against the environment.  Roxas has praised some dudes as exemplars of good practices in total contradiction of a Supreme Court decision; he also okayed tax perks on their planes while he was still transportation secretary.

A communications specialist like Villanueva ought to know enough to double check – the website of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has contact details. A communications specialist could have scanned news outfits to double check the claim.

It’s not just an issue of ethics but of professionalism. Aren’t these ad executives supposed to review  even their clients’ claims? Aren’t they held to standards of truth in advertising? She’s supposed to be a lecturer in marketing in some hot-shot Catholic university. What does she teach the kids?

I guess some incentives trump ethics and professionalism.

Overreach will always unbalance you. Is Villanueva the ad agency version of Trillanes?

Talk is, Roxas isn’t amused – as her efforts have just opened him up to more ridicule. The saner of his campaign staff are bristling.

And I guess our bishops won’t be pleased  either– to put it mildly.

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