Trolls for hire in Philippines: The concealed political weapon used in a social media war

And to counter trolls who buy multiple SIM cards and register multiple accounts using different phone numbers, Facebook users are identified by their Internet Protocol (IP) addresses to track where the accounts are created.

If the IP address is the same but there is a new contact number, that account would be disabled, said Andy.

Even without the system filters, he can spot trolls and inauthentic accounts, he added. They do not use their own pictures, for example, and there is no account activity other than comments.

On presidential candidate Leni Robredo’s official Facebook page, Andy pointed out a commenter who “only (had) 14 friends”.

Still, tech companies are struggling to keep pace with disinformation networks that are becoming more skilled in covering their tracks.

“What (social media platforms) are looking for is co-ordinated inauthentic behaviour. But … it’s not co-ordinated because (disinformation networks) distribute the work to different people who don’t necessarily know that they’re working on the same project,” said Cabanes.

“It’s these kinds of disinformation tactics that are well thought of that often evade regulations … and that’s a real big concern.”

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