MANILA — A group of Filipino-Americans is urging Facebook to take down a network of "trolls" who they said is at the forefront of widespread disinformation in relation to the 2022 Philippine elections.
"A lot of our countrymen are being brainwashed. They have become victims of these endless lies," lawyer Loida Lewis, national chair of US Filipinos for Good Governance (USFGG), said in a forum Wednesday.
To combat the rampant disinformation, the group has launched TrollExposer.com, a website dedicated to exposing troll pages, accounts and groups on Facebook.
According to their research, some 100 trolls on the social networking site have been identified to be supporting the presidential campaign of Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.
More than 700 accounts are sharing red-tagging content targeting Vice President and presidential candidate Leni Robredo, said Liz Derr, founder of Troll Exposer.
The group said it found 118 state-sponsored trolls red-tagging left-leaning politicians and government critics.
"We don't know who is paying the trolls. That would be very difficult to find out," Derr said. "So we classify the trolls based on who is benefiting from their activity, and Bongbong Marcos is benefiting from the activity of the trolls that we're reporting on. So they're his."
The group started collecting publicly available data on Facebook since October last year, and they believed "there are more BBM trolls than those we are exposing here."
Derr said Facebook has not taken action despite their repeated requests.
"We need to publish our reports in order to raise awareness of the issue and protect the people from being threatened," she said.
With the Philippine presidential elections drawing closer, the group called on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to take immediate action.
"How could he not, with all his wealth, find all of these trolls? It's against their own principles. You know inauthentic behavior," Lewis said.
For Eric Lachica, USFGG Washington DC Coordinator, the rampant disinformation on the social media site has led to "a poisonous and dangerous environment" against Marcos' critics and good governance leaders.
He said they would urge US lawmakers to investigate Facebook "for being complicit and enabling the rise of Dutertes and the political restoration of the Marcoses".
Marcos has previously denied the existence of troll farms in his campaign.
"Find me one. Hanapan mo ako kahit isa," he had said.