IT SURFACED just days after the May 13 midterm elections. The comment “Wow cool post, thanks for sharing” started showing up on comments sections of websites and Facebook accounts.
When I saw the comment on articles on www.sunstar.com.ph and on SunStar accounts on Facebook, I thought people with unspent budgets for trolls or automatic posts during the elections were using up their posts to meet the numbers paid for by their political benefactors.
The same comment showed up not only on SunStar digital assets but also on websites and Facebook accounts of media organizations based in Metro Manila and the provinces.
The suspicion that this has something to do with the election campaign would not be entirely groundless because payment for posts or trolls was a practice known to politicians. This actually started in China in 2016 with the “50-cent party trolls” by a legion of freelance online trolls with pro-government messages. People behind them were believed to be paid 50 cents a post, thus the name.
A recent Pew Research Center (www.pewinternet.org) survey of social media use in emerging economies, including the Philippines, showed the prevailing view that many of these users regularly encounter false and misleading content. But, the study added, they also see the benefits of connectivity such as access to political information.
As it turned out, the “Wow cool post, thanks for sharing” comments had more to do with hijacking the technology for personal interests than political.
The GamingPH website said the main purpose of spammers spreading this kind of comment is to eventually earn a Top Fan badge to get perks like comment highlight, raffles prizes, and fan ranking. The Top Fan title is given only by Facebook to those who are active followers who leave comments, likes or reactions to the page. After a wave of comments spammed, a lot of people actually joined the trend and unknowingly became part of the spam spreading across the social media pages. This type of trend is known as “CopyPasta,” where a block of text is copied and pasted across the internet by individuals through social media platforms, to the point it becomes spam. (Source: https://gamingph.com/2019/05/wow-cool-post-thanks-for-sharing-a-comment-trends-in-facebook/)
The origin of this trend was traced to an IGN page last May 9 when a group of trolls flooded their comment thread with “Wow cool post IGN, thanks for sharing,” as a sign of protest for posting non-gaming related content, according to GamingPH. They were noticed after May 13.
The website also gave instructions on how to block these comments on Facebook accounts. Go to Settings, then General, look for Page Moderation, and paste the exact phrase to block. Then, click Save Changes to apply. The GamingPH suggested this action to mark those comments as spam and the page administrator can approve or delete the content. The SunStar website and Facebook accounts have blocked these comments.