A troll is a mythical creature from Scandinavian folklore. They are said to be ugly, dirty, angry, and live in dark places, like caves or underneath bridges, waiting to snatch up anything that passes by for a quick meal.
Similarly, an internet troll hides behind a computer screen and actively seeks out trouble on the internet.
An opinion piece by Randy David, entitled “The President as purveyor of fake news,” was recently published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. In it, he says trolls “can neither spell right nor write grammatically.” He goes on to explain, “[They] resort to exclamation points to call attention, and, most importantly, paint a world we cannot recognize.”
I am a fan of the writer, but I disagree with his elitist definition, defining the actions taken by trolls as a merely “poor journalism.”
In this particular forum, David is unaware he has been a victim of “clickbait.”
Using the analogy of a famous “socialite” coffee shop, whenever one buys coffee, the company puts their name on the cup, yet they intentionally misspell the customer’s name. Why? It invites people to react.
Psychologically speaking, it is easy to see the wrong in every situation rather than its totality.
Through the misspellings, people post pictures on social media, which turns into free advertisement for the shop, as it grabs attention.
In the same way one may see news headlines that appears to be fake, but click on it anyway; it is an obvious attempt to grab attention.
Internet trolling is rampant and it is causing a war of information across social media.
What is fake news? It seems to be an oxymoron since news is something that actually happened, while fake means something that does not exist. Furthermore, news can be reported in error, but it is not fake unless it is presented as a lie.
Additionally, fake news only exists online, like virtual reality; while real news exists in real time.
Fake news is also a part of political propaganda, meant to discredit certain politicians.
What motivates these trolls? Trolling is a reflection of the current state of society, wherein there is a belief the general public is being controlled by institutional forces and they offer a contradiction to the overriding structure.
Demolition jobs are conducted using fake news to bring down people of authority.
News research Claire Wardle called fake news “a way of mis- and disinformation.”
Fake news can be seen through false connections and content; manipulated content; misleading, imposter, and fabricated information; and even in satire or parody. If you look closely, fake news presents similar content, only those who created it changed some of the words intentionally.
Trolling has been a part of Philippine history
A group of “trolls” spread “fake news” through satire, namely, Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Graciano Lopez Jaena, Juan and Antonio Luna, Mariano Ponce, etc.
They are the agency to the structure of “Frailocracy,” with a mission to take down the abusive Spanish regime in a satirical way.
Del Pilar, who I consider the “father of fake news,” ordered his nephew Gregorio del Pilar to change the prayer pamphlet inside the church to ones from his uncle, the Dasalan at Tocsohan, which was similar to the church prayer. The content mocked the friars and their practices, and exposed corruption among their ranks.
“Ang Aba Ginuong Barya” was sung instead of “Ave Maria,” and “Ang Amain Namin” was recited instead of “Ama Namin.”
Augustinian priest, Fr. Jose Rodriguez, published “¡Caiñgat Cayó!: Sa mañga masasamang libro’t casulatan” in 1888, which called reading Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere” a mortal sin. In response, Del Pilar published “Caiigat Cayó (Be as slippery as an eel).”
“Noli Me Tangere” was itself a method of trolling friars and Spanish officials, which proved its efficacy since authorities wanted him dead.
Lopez Jaena’s “Fray Butod” caricatured stereotypes of Spanish friars, who used religion as a tool for oppression.
That time, those who trolled intended to annoy people in power in order to be heard. The Spanish clearly took notice. In a way, trolling can be a way of relaying a message to authorities and the people, such as Senator Antonio Trillanes IV is to President Rodrigo Duterte.
For readers, can the purveyors of fake news be blamed for distributing such information? Essentially, some readers think if the news affirms their viewpoints, it should be shared; they cannot be blamed for a lack of critical analysis. That ignorance leads them to easily believe what they read, resulting in them appearing to be a troll of those who disagree with the stance – when humans are angry or fearful, critical thinking diminishes.
How to combat fake news
Common sense is essential. Quoting the character Poppy from the “Trolls” movie, “Happiness isn’t something you put inside you, it’s already there! Sometimes you just need someone to help you find it – I don’t think it, I feel it!”
Common sense allows one to see another source to verify information.
It is not necessary to share information that promotes hatred. If a trolls shares something that corrupts one’s happiness, the best thing to do is to ignore it./WDJ