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Internet trolls and Keyboard warriors in Cyberpolitics

Corona, Alejandro Jr. T. Sugarol, Joyce

Hisola, Jhon Allain A. Teleron, Lesley


Cyber space makes the spread of ideas faster and more suitable, making it easier for
communication to connect in a convenient way. The complexity of digital age through cyber space
enables such propaganda material to reach social media users. Social media, as an outlet for a multitude
social discussion, motivates user to create content and comment on communications by interaction, user-
generated content, and multi-directional mode of conversation. Hence, social media, in the context of
politics, is a platform to discuss political insights, interests and sentiments which is an effective way for
agenda-setting and spreading of unevenly saturated information and biased propaganda for political

Everyone has the freedom to universal access of information and usage of social media sites like
Facebook, Twitter, etc. – whether rich or poor, geeks or uneducated, right-wing or leftist, cyber space has
become a communication tool for everyone. Such societies granted their users to have the free access of
information are most people privileged to express their grievances and complaints in a form of free
speeches, posting it online with unverifiable information that are unstructured, opinionated and unfiltered
content. In worse cases scenarios, exponential population of social media users have been sharing and
influenced with hoaxed information and fake news which circulates around the cyber space, creating a
massive chaos within user’s proximity and in conflict with another person’s interest. Because of this
problem, it has been a contemporary issue with media ecosystem which is known to be cyber politics.

Nazli Choucri (2012) extends the characterization of the recently coined term “cyber politics” as a
conjunction of two processes or realities: politics and cyber space — pertaining to human interactions
surrounding the determination of who gets what, when and how (politics) and those enabled by the uses
of a virtual space (cyber) as a new arena of contention with its own modalities and realities. These
combinations allowed Lasswell ’ s (1958) definition of politics as the authoritative allocation of values in
society noted that the “study of politics is the study of influence and the influential. ” The influential
people “are those who get the most of what there is to get ” (Lasswell 1958, 3); and expanded its
manifestations through enhanced potential for political participation, and created new possibilities for
expressing views, voicing political positions, and joining political activity.

Today, in the Philippines, the cyber space in social media sites are dominated mostly of political
engagements. While it is true that political participation in cyber space doesn’t limit anyone who is
involved and what matter is being involved with, contentions are much being focused on what is
influential and what matter is being influenced with – the danger of internet trolls and keyboard warriors.
As defined, an internet "troll" is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or
upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community
with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting
normal on-topic discussion (Galvez, 2012). On the other hand, a keyboard warrior is a person who, being
unable to express his anger through physical violence (owning to their physical weakness, lack of bravery
and/or conviction in real life), instead manifests said emotions through the text-based medium of the
internet, usually in the form of aggressive writing that the Keyboard Warrior would not (for reasons
previously mentioned) be able to give form to in real life (Urban Dictionary, 2012).

Generally speaking, both internet trolls and keyboard warriors has an overarching communications
strategy that involves creating official government applications, websites or platforms for disseminating
content; using accounts—either real, fake or automated—to interact with users on social media; or
creating substantive content such as images, videos or blog posts.

Thus, due to the rise of fake news and biased information dominating online, a lot of Filipino social
media users have claimed that they have been victimized of misinformation due to called ‘clickbait,’ the
headline of which is exaggerated (often to the point of sensationalizing) to entice readers to click, a site
that posts tabloid-like headlines with edited news clips and Some URLs also mimic legitimate news
websites to entice readers to click. Some examples include (the proper url for BBC
is, has been currently circulating and shared among social media users.

Statement of the Problem

The danger of internet trolls and keyboard warriors in cyber politics has imposed negative impact
and influential propaganda to the cyber space allowing social media users to be victimized through the
circulated fake news and shared biased data which eventually led to massive misinformation. Hence,
credible information is under attack by outnumbered invalidated information mostly shared in political
engagements and by propaganda in the Philippines.

This paper wants to expand the characterization on the danger of internet trolls and keyboard
warriors since it has never been dealt with in depth discourses. Thus, the aim of our research is to broaden
the discussion of the current status quo of cyber politics in the Philippines which primarily focuses on the
danger of internet trolls and keyboard warriors through set of questions needed to be analyzed:

1. What are the roles of internet trolls and keyboard warriors in cyber politics?

2. How politically motivated are internet trolls and keyboard warriors in influence cyber politics?

3. What are the contributions of internet trolls and keyboard warriors through cyber politics in the
mainstream politics?
Review of Related Literature

Cyberspace has redirected the activities of an individual towards his social interaction. It has introduced
vital technological advances mainly in communication and information dissemination which
encompassed different entities from local level to global scale. Hence, the web of connectivity amongst
individuals in cyberspace has been conducive on various ideas that manifest in cause-oriented platform in
an evenly ideological perspective – on social, political and cultural perspectives.

There has been no concrete and actual definition of “cyberspace”. In fact, multiple definitions of
“cyberspace” is used in many context, but it’s not always clear what exactly the term describes and
means. Relatively, the term “cyber” has been associated with matters involving information technology,
networks and computers, most especially in the field of cyber security. According to this definition, the
study of cyberspace is in depth with the emergence of state in conflict warfare through cyber terrorism,
cyber militias, etc (Ottis, R. Lorents, P. , 2010). In other words, “cyberspace” is a domain characterized
by the use of electronics and the electromagnetic spectrum to store, modify and exchange information via
networked information systems and physical infrastructures (

In order to clarify this situation, the authors offer the following definition: cyberspace is a time-dependent
set of interconnected information systems and the human users that interact with these systems. They
describe the background of the definition and show why this approach may be preferable over others.
Specifically, they revisit the terms coined by Norbert Wiener (the father of cybernetics) and William
Gibson. The authors show that time-dependence is an overlooked aspect of cyber space and make a case
for including it in our proposed definition

In the form of more user-friendly gadgets, coupled with the existence of social media and messaging
applications (Hashim, 2014), the instant accessibility and sharing of information in cyberspace has come
to be regarded as the most transparent, engaging and interactive form of public relations. However, as
transitions goes by, the realm of cyberspace has exposed post-relative truth and mythology of expertise
which further destabilized the foundations of factual knowledge, namely scientific knowledge and state
power (Contreras, 2017).

Philippines in the age of mainstream media

On the onset of mainstream media,

Social Media and its Political Participation

Politics inside the cyber space

Cyber Space

Cyber Politics

Fake News

Philippine Politics

Mainstream Media

Social Media as an Online Platfrom

PH, 27 other countries use ‘cyber troops’ to manipulate opinion – study

Gelo Gonzales

One trait of cyber troops in the Philippines is individual targeting which is ‘used to silence political
dissent online’ and often leads to ‘real life- threats and reputational damage’.
A University of Oxford study detailed how governments around the world are deploying “cyber troops”
to manipulate public opinion.

The study, titled ‘Troops, Trolls and Troublemakers: A Global Inventory of Organized Social Media
Manipulation,” identified 28 countries where there is enough evidence of cyber troop use and
deployment, among them, the Philippines.

The study defines “cyber troops” as “government military or political party teams committed to
manipulating public opinion over social media”