Shut down 'troll farms' before 2022 polls, Facebook asked

Published June 21, 2021, 3:49 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senate President Vicente Sotto III raised concern on Monday, June 21, about the proliferation of so-called “troll farms” on social media ahead of the 2022 national and local elections.

(Brett Jordan/UNSPLASH)

Sotto said social media giant Facebook should shut down such operations at least until after the polls.

“Nakakabahala ‘yon, sapagkat pinadudumi nila ang pulitika sa Pilipinas (It’s disturbing, they are tainting Philippine politics),” Sotto said in an online interview with reporters.

“Hindi bale sana kung totoo ‘yong sasabihin ng mga ‘yon, eh, siguradong hindi (Nevermind if what they will only say the truth, but they won’t),” he added.

“Kung walang ginawa kundi manira, siguro, shut it down until after the elections. After the elections, maglaro sila hanggang gusto nila (If they have no other business but to slander people maybe Facebook can shut it down until after the elections. They could play all they want after the elections),” Sotto appealed.

Sotto said he has recently talked to a Facebook executive, who supposedly told him that troll pages could be taken down if complaints were lodged against them.

“Noong araw ‘yong mga duwag tahimik lang, eh. Pero ito, ang lalakas ng loob kasi ‘di sila nakikita, nasa likod ng computer (Before, cowards stay silent. But they have become more brazen because are unseen and can hide behind computers),” he said, hoping Facebook will be more aggressive in dealing with social media trolls.

Sotto said his political party, the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), would “surely” be supporting parties and groups who would propose or work to prevent troll operations during the elections.

“We have never resorted to dirty type of politics,” the acting NPC chairman said.

He also appealed to voters to “sift through the rubble” and be vigilant against disinformation in next year’s polls.

Senator Panfilo Lacson last June 8 bared that a ranking government official has already started organizing members of at least two troll farms to discredit critics and possible opponents of administration candidates in 2022.

He did not name the official, hinted that it was an incumbent undersecretary in a government agency.

Lacson was concerned that government resources are being used to finance troll farm operations.

Malacañang, on the other hand, denied that the Duterte administration had a hand over the creation of troll farms.