Troll farm workers speak out, bare system, earnings as part of campaign ops

May 11, 2022 - 8:33 PM
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Screenshot of radio VJs Mo Twister Tin Gamboa and Dora Dorado during the May 10 episode of Magic 89.9's "The Good Times" (Facebook/Magic 89.9)

An anonymous radio show phoner made allegations about the presence of troll farms for leading May 9 candidates supposedly for political campaigns.

In a live episode of radio show “Good Times” aired on Magic 89.9 on May 10, the caller admitted to being part of a so-called “think tank” running multiple social media accounts posing as organic individuals in support of candidates who are their clients.

In the episode aired a day after the May 9 elections, radio hosts Tin Gamboa, also known as VJ Suzy, Mo Twister and Dora Dorado received the call. He said a major client is Bongbong Marcos, now the presumptive president-elect.

“Sobrang nakaka-down especially if isa ka sa naging part kung bakit nanalo yung kandidato. So though I voted for Leni (Vice President Leni Robredo), we’re part of a think tank, along with fellow Ateneans and UP grads,” the caller said.

The caller also said that he and his colleagues only got themselves involved in the operations “for the money.”

“Nag-consolidate kami sa specific campaign for BBM (Ferdinand Marcos Jr.) and it was stupid for us to do so kasi let’s be real, everything is being run by the money,” he added.

But, he claimed, they voted according to “conscience.”

“They’re all telling me na kung saan yung money, doon tayo. Pero we’ll vote, at the end of the day, based on our conscience,” he claimed.

The claims are similar to a confession posted on Reddit Philippines which has since been deleted.

“They are vocal kakampinks. They are from respected universities and firms and just took this job for the good pay (60k-80k a month),” the Reddit OP wrote.

Claiming to have cut ties with the troll operations, the radio caller, meanwhile, also tried to counter Marcos’ earlier claim that he has no troll farms.

The unnamed caller said that he can name specific addresses of offices. “I can give you a specific address, a specific office, and it’s in Leviste in Makati,” he told “Good Times” radio hosts.

Marcos had dared critics on TV: “Find me one. Show me one. Just one. They don’t exist. You show me the place where there are hundreds of trolls sitting in front of a computer spreading fake news. It doesn’t exist.”

Marcos said this in the CNN Philippines interview.

How they supposedly work

DJ Mo further asked the caller for details on how their supposed think-tank works.

The caller said he was among those in charge of “digging” up old Facebook accounts to be bought. These are then used to post content and comments for the campaign.

“So, if you happen to see meme accounts or pages that post shitty things or something obnoxious, those have been used as propaganda tool for the BBM campaign,” the person said.

He and his colleagues allegedly start making the accounts look normal by posting content that people will like and share.

Then, when the campaign season started, many politicians supposedly offered large sums of money to buy these accounts, each having over 300,000 followers.

“The content or the page itself ranges from P2,500 to about a million pesos depending on the number of engagements and the number of page likes,” he said.

‘Stupid’ comments on purpose

The caller also claimed that they were not the source of spreading fake news.

“It’s not us talaga spreading the fake news. We’re like a think-tank, we’re thinking of a script of the replies of each of those trolls,” he said.

The replies were also supposed to be “stupid” to fuel engagement, the caller said.

When Mo asked him how much money he receives for his work, the latter shared that he received a staggering P2.5 million for a year.

“It’s a contract wherein I’ll be getting P2.5 million,” the caller claimed.

To which Mo reacted: “Okay, that’s what I’m talking about.”

The caller added that the payment supposedly covered a year for his work acquiring paid accounts, meme Facebook pages and managing them, along with specific trolls.

‘Please watch’

VJ Suzy shared a copy of the episode on her Twitter account.

“Please watch this. We had a caller who admitted that he got paid 2.5M to be part of the Uniteam think tank for troll farms. The troll farms Jr. said he didn’t have. Caller said he voted for Leni bec his conscience told him to as if his one vote could vindicate him. Sobrang sakit,” she said.

The post came from a user who shared a copy of the interview via video clips on Twitter.