Confessions Of A Fake News Writer By Accident, And The Duterte Army Of Trolls

I am a seasoned Internet marketer, blogger, and web developer since 2002. Politics is not really my thing, but when money is associated with it, I will try as long as it is inside my legal boundary.

Since 2008, I run several blogs outside politics. I never liked politics. Internet marketers did not think there is money in political blogging. No one would think of it until the proliferation of fake news started a couple of years ago.

Before, there were only satire sites. There were fake news especially in US, but not in the Philippines until Duterte run for president on May 2016 Elections. Everything has started since then.

On March 2016, a group of journalism students from De La Salle commissioned me and my team to create a satirical blog called “Satirista” (discontinued since August 2017).

Their purpose was to gather data about people who believe on satire and fake news, and to distinguish satire from fake news content.

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Since Duterte supporters are leading all social media outlets, my team decided to focus on content that would cater pro-Duterte supporters. In short, we created dozens upon dozens of fake pro-Duterte satire and fake news articles.

See Also: Dutertards Number in Rapid Decline, Study Says

The response was overwhelming. In just four months (April-to July 2016), the site’s official Facebook page gathered 78,000 likes and followers. We posted 3 to 5 pro-Duterte fake articles per day.

The students told us after four months that they have enough data for their research, so it is for us whether we continue to run the site or not.

The students didn’t care about the earnings generated by the site as they were not aware of it. What important was the data and we parted ways after they got what they needed.

After Duterte was elected as President, Satirista started to earn a monthly income of around $3,500 until June 2017.  The earnings started to decline from August due to lower site activity and besides, my team shifted its focus on our authority sites not related to politics.

For more than one year since Satirista was created, 100% of its content were pro-Duterte. People believed that Satirista was really created to support Duterte.

My team was running out of articles to write, and lies to publish, so we decided to make a small twist. We started writing anti-Duterte on January 2017.

This time, there is a big difference. We did not actually write fake anti-Duterte news, but real news criticizing Duterte’s failed policies.

People started to become wild on their comments. The response was overwhelming. There were more hate than shares. People reacted even without reading the content. People started to accuse the site of being anti-Duterte, without realizing that we run a pro-Duterte site for more than a year.

Blind Duterte supporters are quick to react and give different accusations. They made the following conclusions:

  1. Satirista was purchased by Liberal Party
  2. Satirista was publishing fake news (no one mentioned about fake news when we posted pro-Duterte fake articles for more than one year)
  3. Owners of Satirista were paid to turn their back against Duterte
  4. LP paid Satirista more than what Duterte had paid.
  5. Satirista should be shut down because it promotes fake news.

In short, blind Duterte supporters will believe whatever it is (fake or real), as long as it supports Duterte, while criticizing any topic against Duterte even if it is true.

The reaction differs, but there are also some who changed their stance, and instead of posting their comments publicly, they send personal message to the page showing their displeasure on Duterte.

As I mentioned on the first paragraph of this article, we are making money as long as it is inside our legal boundary. Feeding the Duterte trolls was proven to be a very lucrative business, but this is not the case anymore.

We decided to shutdown Satirista because it became saturated with hate comments from Dutertards, and besides, we are the only site the produces original content.

Another downfall of running a fake news site is the rampant copying-pasting of our original content by other bloggers (this I suspected being done by keyboard army which I will include in my complete and detailed article soon)

The tide is turning against Duterte, and for us, politics is not important.

So what’s inside the mind of blind Duterte supporters? There’s nothing in there except that they believe what Duterte has to say. They believe on person and not on his policy. If Duterte tells them to eat his dang, they’ll probably will.  But as long as we make money due to their ignorance, we don’t care.  /Jun Valasek/

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