The only son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos on Thursday denied keeping a troll army to promote his presidential candidacy on social media and tip internet surveys in his favor.
Former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. led online polls by Manila Bullletin and Rappler, with the latter deciding to take down its survey after noticing votes from foreign accounts for Marcos and his rival, Vice President Leni Robredo.
"Wala akong troll, hindi ako nagbu-boost dahil ang netizens, ang gagaling ng mga 'yan, kita nila kaagad 'yan e. Alam naman nila kung 'di totoo, saan nanggaling," Marcos told journalist Erwin Tulfo on Facebook
Rappler took down its Oct. 7 Facebook poll following a surge in "wow" reactions, indicating pro-Marcos, from Arab and Pakistani accounts. It also noticed foreign accounts picking "hearts" assigned to Robredo.
Rappler issued an apology after deleting the post, saying "it was not aligned with our objective." Pro-Marcos supporters accused them of bias.
Marcos said Rappler should have kept the post, claiming it showed the pulse of the people.
"It is a lesson to all of us na mag-ingat tayo na pagka magkakaroon tayo ng ganyang klaseng mga survey ay tiyakin natin na fair at objective pati ang pagbibilang. Siyempre, nakapanig tayo sa isang grupo o partido, nais nating palabasin 'yung mas magandang resulta pero 'wag naman natin palitan 'yung totoong resulta para naman sa ating ninanais na palabasin."
Marcos got about 679,000 of the roughly one million votes cast in the Manila Bulletin poll as of Friday. It was posted Oct. 15.
Manila Bulletin technology editor Art Samaniego said the publication would "clean" the data from the poll by removing suspicious accounts.
"Mas magiging malinis siya 'pag final na kasi titingnan naming mabuti. Puwedeng linisin para maalis 'yung halimbawa walo lang 'yung friends," he told Tulfo in a separate interview.
Samaniego said Facebook polls were unreliable and could be easily manipulated as post reactions could be bought.
In an earlier post, Samaniego said he was able to purchase 100 votes for $3 (or about P150) from legitimate companies offering these services to boost reactions on one of his posts. Some of the reactions were from India, Bangladesh and Vietnam.
"I'm not encouraging you to cheat. What I'm saying is, don't believe Facebook surveys as they could be manipulated," he said.
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