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Duterte supporters fall for 'gullible' posts, netizen's experiment finds

In this Nov. 9, 2016 file photo, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, center, arrives for a meeting with Philippine community at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It's been a remarkably turbulent first year for Duterte, whose war on drug has left thousands of suspects dead and prompted critics to call his rule a "human rights calamity." AP Photo/Vincent Thian, File

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE 2 Sept. 27 6:02 p.m.) — A netizen posted on Facebook the results of an online experiment he conducted to check how supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte would react to news about the chief executive.

In a now viral post, a certain Janjan Gonzales came up with an informal social media experiment on pro-Duterte Facebook groups to test supporters’ knee-jerk reaction to online content highlighting the administration.

On his first experiment, Gonzales said he asked the staunch supporters of the president if they are “credulous to Duterte” to see if they would react differently.

Surprisingly, he noted that members of the group have agreed quite instantly without analyzing the meaning of credulous.

A screengrab of Gonzales’ post showed that almost all of the members have commented “yes” while others praised Duterte and the current status of the administration. 

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Others, however, took the opportunity to criticize and blame the Liberal Party for what appears to be a “positive” result for them.

In a different post, Gonzales noted that he shared a 2017 impunity index infographic of Philstar.com, showing the Philippines on the top spot with 75.6 points.

READ: Philippines has worst impunity in the world 45 years since Martial Law

Along with the index was Gonzales’ seemingly sarcastic remark on Duterte to test if members would notice the meaning of impunity.

But similar to his previous post, he said majority of supporters seemed to agree that Duterte should be commended for the country’s high score in the impunity index.

Meanwhile, another netizen who goes by the name of Joshvic Castillo commented on Gonzales’ post, saying that his own experiment got similar responses from supporters of the president.

Asked if they are willing to fight for Duterte until death, Gonzales noted that majority of the members gave their swift approval.

While a majority of the supporters responded positively to Gonzales’ post, others, however, raised what the words meant and said they were tricked by members supporting the LP.

As Gonzales’ posts continue to make rounds on social media, he shared that the experiment—while unscientific—suggests that a good number of Facebook users tend to fall prey to fake news or believe any content in favor of the president.
In July, the University of Oxford released a study saying cyber troops were hired to post propaganda in favor of Duterte while those critical of the president were harassed.
The study also found that fake accounts which were usually “bots” were used to inflate the number of likes, shares and retweets of posts favoring the president to create “an artificial sense of popularity, momentum or relevance.”

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