A troll, according to Google (in the online sense), is a “person who makes a deliberately offensive or provocative post with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them.” As social media continues to democratize the delivery of information, so too the precious balance brought about by years of traditional media rule has been upset. Trolls now proliferate in the social media world, many of them earning money by their ignorant and misguided posts. The moneyed, as well as some government officials, are possibly employing trolls by the hundreds, some of them housing the trolls in troll factories or buildings equipped with computers with online connections.
Trolls could have played in making Rodrigo Duterte and his successor, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., president. Their supporters possibly cultivated troll farms even during their rule, continuing their assault on liberal democracy even after the elections. But awareness of their existence is also growing by the day. Online warriors fact-checking every lie or erroneous report are growing in number. It took years for society to stabilize with the advent of online media. Society, sooner or later, will achieve stability with the advent of social media.
Trolls are not about to let Leni Robredo go despite her defeat in this year’s elections. They want to bring her down so she won’t be resurrected in 2028. More so after she created a nationwide non-government organization that tended to put her supporters under one massive structure. So trolls continue to harass and ridicule her even after she has become a mere private citizen.
Apparently thinking they could put her down when Typhoon Karding hit parts of Luzon recently, they spread the question: “Nasaan si (Where is) Leni?” insinuating that she may have just been folding her arms as the typhoon hit. I stifled a laugh because the question should properly be, “Nasaan si (Where is) Bongbong?” After all, he should be the one made accountable for any government failing during the typhoon.
Unfortunately for the trolls, however, the question only gave the former vice president the chance to publicize what her NGO was doing in Luzon without much fanfare. Photos of volunteers piling sacks of donated rice soon spread online. Which just shows that social media can also be used to defend one’s dignity. The democratization of the delivery of information also means that one can no longer be dependent on social media to defend one’s honor.
What I am saying is that the learning process for the “forces of good” is continuing. Trolls cannot sit idly on their laurels. The good wave is building up in social media. Soon all platforms will be engulfed by it so much so that the idea of social media doing something good for society will be realized. And the tenets of liberal democracy will prevail once more.
Indeed, the time will come when troll factories and farms, even individual trolls, will lose their relevance in the current setup.