On a lazy summer beautiful weekend, the mass shooting in Texas and 13 hours later in Ohio, left an ugly carnage reflecting hate and prejudice. But that’s not the story of this writing.
The World Wide Web reeled its ugly head when the dark side showed how the internet and social media has become an indirect yet lethal instrument of sowing discontent.
This snapshot investigative writing published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer last August 6, 2019 gives us a peek into the dangerous world of trolling:
From a pig farm in an undisclosed location in the Philippines to popular coffee shops in the country’s urban business districts, the dark side of the Web is churning out material ranging from seemingly harmless but eyebrow-raising claims of popularity by Philippine politicians to lethal creeds of racism posted by the gunman in the El Paso, Texas mass killing on a supposedly free speech online forum called 8chan which is being run by an American expat in the Philippines.
While the Philippines is becoming an international hub for internet trolling that caters mainly to political clients, according to a Washington Post investigative report, other reports painted a blacker, deadlier picture of some web site operations originating from the country.
The mass shooting was followed almost half-a-day later by another that claimed nine lives in Dayton, Ohio but the El Paso carnage offered clues to how the Philippines is becoming like a war room for internet operators that provide services akin to call centers but work in hard-to-detect anonymity which allows them to flaunt laws and shields them from accountability.
We live in very dangerous times. The battle ground has shifted to social media. With so much disinformation being sowed by keyboard warriors, the gullible are led to believe what friends and foes post online. Trolling engages people who are easily suggestible into believing lies and disinformation and make them seem real and making a parallel universe come to life.
And that’s the problem. Oftentimes without reading the article, someone presses the SHARE button too quickly. A haphazardly placed article by some random opinionated lowlife who makes a living trolling online is being shared multiple times. The following has begun. And the consequences are magnanimous.
Accountability is low. Consequences are high. Truths are buried and muddled by half wits who use technology as a tool for financial remuneration – no matter what the repercussions are.
We live in different times my friends. A time where war is born from keyboards and dark secluded places we used to call homes. A time where influencers quickly transform opinions into social media yet refuse to take full responsibility of their actions. Where followers are easily duped into believing lies from pretenders and peddlers or information.
Trolls are critics with no credentials. And the fight on social media between trolls vs. trolls puts every ignorant fool in between that chains of war. We need to fight that war by not feeding it with our attention. Only then, will the trolls die.