I Unwittingly Applied as a Philippine-based Troll for a US Far Right Website
On October 2, 2020, I read the online article, The billion-dollar business of social media trolling in the Philippines, and what it means for public relations globally by Alex Malouf, published on Influence on July 27, 2019. It reminded me of how I almost became part of that burgeoning industry the previous year:
Last week of April 2019, in search of a bigger monthly income, I answered a job ad on Facebook for a content writer. Soon, I visited the office of the business process outsourcing (BPO) company in Quezon City, Philippines.
That first day of application, one of the tests was to write an article based on another published in a so-called health news website: NaturalNews.com. I was appalled by the articles I read on that site. One claimed that US states under Democrat governors are being run like Venezuela. Another article questioned the validity of global warming. I sensed the extreme-right ideology in its contents right away. And upon checking when I got home, I learned this website is banned on social media sites Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
I hoped that that website was used only as an example for the writing test. Unfortunately, my hope was dashed, as I later received a call and an email from the human resources officer asking me to review further the contents of that website for the remaining tests, as—tada!—we were its prospective content writers. And, passing those tests was the penultimate stage before we get interviewed by the client representative.
With the realization, I decided to stop my job application—even though the human resources officer sounded amenable to granting me the salary I asked for during an earlier phone interview. I refuse to raise my children with money from that website of irresponsible, bigoted journalism.
The HR officer told me that a number of applicants did back out after realizing what the website was all about, and tried to persuade me to continue my application. It made me feel proud to know my compatriots are principled. Still, I’m sorry for any Filipino writer who ended up taking that job, and who may be currently writing for that website of US extreme right propaganda.
Karlo Sevilla of Quezon City, Philippines is the author of the full-length poetry collection, “Metro Manila Mammal” (Soma Publishing, 2018), and the chapbook, “You” (Origami Poems Project, 2017). Recognized among The Best of Kitaab 2018 and twice nominated for the Best of the Net, his poems appear in various publications worldwide, including Philippines Graphic, Matter, Collective Unrest, I am not a silent poet, Unlikely Stories Mark V, Social Justice Poetry, Poetry24, Radius, Razorhouse Magazine, The Wayward Sword, Tuck Magazine, Rat’s Ass Review, The Ramingo’s Porch, and others. He was also a former journalist for the Philippine Online Chronicles and was the winner of the HR Right-Up category in Human Rights Online Philippines’ 8th (2018) HR Pinduteros Choice Awards.
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