TV personality Gretchen Ho claimed her Twitter account gained a sudden surge in followers count in the past few days.
Ho shared this in a Twitter thread on May 17. She shared that found this suspicious as the national elections nears in 2022.
“There has been a strange rapid increase in my following over the past days, accounts made either 2020 or 2021. Who’s experiencing the same?” she said.
“Seems like the keyboard soldiers are getting ready and already positioning themselves for a wild, social media-centric election campaign this 2022!” she added.
There has been a strange rapid increase in my following over the past days, accounts made either 2020 or 2021. Who’s experiencing the same?
— Gretchen Ho (@gretchenho) May 17, 2021
When a Twitter user asked an estimate number of people who followed her, Ho responded that it was around 2,000 new followers. She added that the accounts were mostly newly created.
“Parang two thousand na over the past couple of days. And then I’m checking their accounts puro 2021-2022 accounts talaga and most of them don’t have real people profiles,” she said.
Ho’s tweets also reached Reddit Philippines where some users also cited some suspicious Facebook pages that suddenly share political posts such as red-tagging community pantries.
“Kahit yung mga pages na hindi naman related sa politics unti unti nang nagpopost about politics,” one Reddit user said.
“Be more worried that whatever political outrage started in social media will now likely influence the real world. Look no further than red-tagging of community pantries,” another user said.
Other users warned that these alleged troll farms and other suspicious accounts would be more active in 2022.
“Once 2022 rolls around, expect round the clock firestorms on Facebook and Twitter pre and post-election day,” one user said.
“Lalabas diyan sa election season ang fruits ng pakikipagpacute sa China, Russia, and probably Israel din. makikita natin yang mga narrative na very much manipulative at opportunistic and objectively repressive/regressive in nature at i-wewelcome ng karamihan with open arms,” another user wrote.
The sudden emergence of dubious social media accounts and pages had been ongoing in the recent years.
In June 2020, following the passage of the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, there was a sudden spike of empty dubious “clone” accounts on Facebook.
Most victims were activists, journalists and other Filipinos who are vocal in their criticisms against the current administration.
The previous year, in March 2019, the hashtag #Trollintelligently dominated conversations on Twitter after some observant Twitter users found out that some accounts supposedly owned by Filipino users bear foreign personalities and even a murder victim.
In the same year, Facebook also did a massive purge where almost 200 pages and groups, and Instagram accounts were removed.
These online properties turned out to be associated with a certain Filipino public relations practitioner who ran social media campaigns in 2016.