By Francis Baraan IV
I was trending again on Facebook and YouTube last September 13, because some prominent Diehard Duterte Supporters (DDS) and bloggers and social media personalities like Mark Lopez, Krizette Chu, Jay Sonza, and Banat By — including pro-Duterte Facebook Pages and YouTubers — took to Facebook and YouTube to respond to my tweet, where I basically took a satirical jab at a recent news about PCOO’s claim that the Duterte government has no paid trolls. The said tweet, which I posted last September 12, was meant to be a snide yet playful remark against Duterte’s Communications Department:
“You wanna hear something funny, outrageous, and preposterous?
Sabi raw ng PCOO, wala raw paid trolls ang gobyerno. Eh, ano ang tawag mo kina Mocha Uson, TP, Sasot, Mark Lopez, Trixie, Krizzie, at Banat By?”
So, now, let us define what exactly a troll is, and what — during these times of hyperpartisanship — truly constitutes as trolling.
In fiction, a troll is a “mythical, cave-dwelling being depicted in folklore as either a giant or a dwarf, typically having a very ugly appearance.” According to University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s James Hanson, “trolling is defined as creating discord on the Internet by starting quarrels or upsetting people by posting inflammatory or off-topic messages in an online community. Basically, a social media troll is someone who purposely says something controversial in order to get a rise out of other users.”
Based on those definitions, the DDS bloggers I mentioned earlier may not be the dwarves with ugly appearances in mythology, but do they do constitute what James Hanson defines as trolling and do they fit his profile of what makes one a social media troll? That is the million-peso question.
Let us dissect.
1. For the past two days, the recent social media posts of Krizette Chu, Mark Lopez, Jay Sonza, and Banat By about me on Facebook and YouTube were not only misleading — they were downright false, malicious, and libelous. If you read (and check on Twitter) again my tweet to which they responded to, I never said nor did I insinuate that they were paid trolls by PCOO. I did not call them bayaran, a derogatory Filipino term used to describe paid political influencers, bloggers, & journalists by politiicians or political parties. I did not call them names. I did not create or fabricate trumped up charges against them. What I did was ASK ( the operative punctuation mark being question mark) whether or not Lopez, Chu, Banat By, and Sonza are, indeed, trolls. Nowhere in my tweet did I use the term “PAID” to refer to any of them.
But why did they share my tweet to their hundreds of thousands of followers and boldly — and irresponsibly — suggest that I called them paid trolls, when it was not the case at all?
2. Political blogging these days is akin to independent journalism. If you want to be a political blogger, you have to do a little bit of digging, proofreading, editing, and a lot of due diligence. In other words — lots of verifiable, fact-based research from reliable sources. If you search for the phrase “Francisco Baraan III case dismissed” on Google, a Rappler news article would pop up on the first page of the search entitled, “Bilibid inmates….” In the article, it says that the 2017 drug case leveled by the DOJ under then Justice Secretary Aguirre against my father, Former Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, was already “dismissed due to lack of sufficient evidence” — ON THE SAME YEAR BY THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, TOO.
So, why did Chu, Lopez, Sonza, and Banat By keep calling my Dad a fugitive, labeling him a criminal, and branding him as persona non grata in the Philippines, who couldn’t return home and hiding in America, when the truth is completely the opposite? Did they not do some of the prerequisite research before falsely accusing a now private citizen of such serious allegations?
3. Political bloggers/vloggers with huge following are supposed to be key opinion leaders. And being a key opinion leader requires, first and foremost, responsible netizenship. In other words, if you write politically-charged blogs, you are supposed to make sure that you share with your followers facts and truths about public figures — not salacious, divisive, unfounded gossips.
Why, then, do Chu, Lopez, Sonza, and Banat By seem to make not only inaccurate representations and posts about my father, but outright lies.
4. Lastly, let me offer my own definition of what a troll is, and what constitutes trolling:
If you keep purveying fake news, propagating lies, spreading hate speech, disseminating propaganda, making inflammatory remarks to elicit a negative reaction, & doing zero research, then, you are not a political blogger — you are just ANOTHER (STUPID, ANNOYING) TROLL.
So, what say you?
Are Chu, Lopez, Sonza, and Banat By real political bloggers or just a bunch of trolls? You decide.