Online users like Pinoy Ako Blog, run by known Duterte critic Jover Laurio, pointed out on Feb. 1, 2020 that viral, sympathetic stories regarding Chinese nationals in the Philippines turn out to be duplicates, or chain posts.
'Copy paste troll farms': Have you shared any of these seemingly true posts?
Ratziel San Juan ( - February 1, 2020 - 6:04pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated, Feb. 2, 4:46 p.m.) — Kids, don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

Online users like Pinoy Ako Blog, run by known Duterte critic Jover Laurio, pointed out on Saturday that viral, sympathetic stories regarding Chinese nationals in the Philippines turn out to be duplicates, or chain posts.

The observation comes after the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte was criticized over its supposedly lax approach in responding to the ongoing outbreak of 2019 Novel (new) Coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease or 2019-nCoV ARD.

RELATED: 'What do you mean relaxed?' Panelo counters criticism of gov't response to nCoV threat

Here are just some of the “fauxthentic’ stories making rounds on social media (omit tears).

The one with the Chinese neighbors

“I’m sad. We have Chinese neighbors sa condo, and just now may nakasabay kaming lalaki (Chinese) with 2 kids. Sila dapat ‘yong nauna dun sa elevator. But when he saw us (Filipinos) behind him, umatras siya with his kids at nagpahuli. Hindi sila sumabay. I heard the kids asked their dad why, but he just shushed them. Kasakit man sa heart. Let's pray for each other's good health, regardless of race. This is not a time to blame and discriminate. P.S. Nobody knows the feels more than those who saw the sadness in the man's eyes. Yes, don't forget PRECAUTIONS. But don't be so overwhelmed by that and set aside COMPASSION. HUMANITY, as you say.”

The one who’s ‘not sick...not sick…’

“Hey, i was walking on the street to find a public vehicle when a Chinese man approached me na parang hiyang-hiya. Pansin kong iniiwasan din siya ng mga tao. Masyado pa siyang mailap tas di makatingin sa'kin, tinanong ko na kasi parang di niya talaga kaya magsalita. ' yes? you speak bisaya, tagalog or English?' tas parang nabuhayan siya na may kumausap sa kanya pero ramdam mo yung paglayo niya ng kusa. ' not sick... not sick..' nagpapanik pa siya ng kunti tapos sabi niya. ' first time here.. the driver angry.. drop me here and said... I can walk the Poblacion area.... I just wanna know direction?' parang naiiyak pa siya, it's not his efforts in speaking to be understood that broke my heart but knowing the fact that the driver lied to him. Kung lalakarin mo kasi yung lugar na binanggit niya mula dun sa kinaroroonan namin is aabutin ka ng ilang oras. I mean i know na may iba satin na galit sa kanila dahil nga sa virus na yan but being this rude and cruel. It's breaking me. You can't be mean to someone just because of their race.”

Could’ve fooled anyone?

While the aforementioned stories have been hypothesized to be the work of so-called “troll farms” and bots, their authenticity deceived organic viewers and at least one news organization who reported the tale as fact.

RELATED: Duterte camp spent $200,000 for troll army, Oxford study finds

The report "Architects of Networked Disinformation,” which highlighted how false information circulated organically and systematically in the Philippines, said that news media are targeted due to their wide reach by people who produce and market false content to further amplify these.

“The goal here is to exploit mainstream new media’s vulnerability to reporting items that become popular in social media,” the report read.

RELATED: Ad, PR execs are ‘chief architects’ of disinformation in Philippines — study

Data & Society’s 2017 report “Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online” explained that the media are targeted and particularly vulnerable to such manipulation of information because of their overdependence on social media, analytics and metrics, sensationalism, novelty over newsworthiness and clickbait.

The Media Manipulation report said the common motivation for people who create and spread disinformation, propaganda and/or fake news is “a combination of one or more of these categories—ideology, money, and/or status and attention.”

In relation to the “sob stories,” Pinoy Ako Blog suggested that whoever was behind the circulating fake messages could be pro-administration entities trying to detract from the government’s apparent culpability for the public health issue at hand.

“They want you to feel that way para makalimutan niyo ang pagpapabaya ni Duterte at ang katotohanan na tulog pa din siya hanggang ngayon,” the blog’s Facebook post read.

(They want you to feel that way so you’ll forget Duterte’s incompetence and the truth that he’s still sound asleep.)

Digital journalism researcher Clair Wardle, co-author of the Information Disorder report, defines propaganda as “true or false information spread to persuade an audience, but often has a political connotation and is often connected to information produced by governments.”

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