Who isn’t interested in the life of an online troll or the inner workings of a troll farm? Not us. We want to know everything about it — from how they’re recruited down to the hierarchy of their disinformation network. Sure, we’ve come across a couple of online troll confessions the past few days from people who allegedly worked in troll farms but this time, we want to hear it from researchers themselves. Enter the Catch Me If You Can podcast, your newest weekly podcast addiction.
Catch Me If You Can
🚨New pod alert!
Harvard and UMass researcher Jonathan Ong and journalist Kat Ventura venture into the world of troll farms and online propaganda in the Philippines. If you’re curious about how these disinformation operatives work, listen in: https://t.co/WLatwdP0b5 pic.twitter.com/HCWF9tNe8S
— PumaPodcast (@PumaPodcastPH) April 25, 2022
Catch Me If You Can is a new project by PumaPodcast, an award-winning local podcast production company. It launched its first episode last April 22 and is ongoing with three episodes to date. The podcast, co-hosted by University of Massachusetts professor and Harvard researcher Jonathan Ong and journalist Kat Ventura, deep dives into the “psyche of trolls” and explores the networks of disinformation in the country.
All about online trolls
You’ve probably got questions. How much do trolls earn? How did they start out? What exactly are their jobs and how are they accomplices in accelerating the downward spiral of our country? Most importantly, are they real?
The podcast seeks to provide its listeners with the answers and these aren’t mere speculations from the hosts too. We get to hear all about it from the mouths of these unnamed online trolls, paid strategists, and influencers themselves.
A look at the bigger picture
In time for #LaborDay I partnered with awardwinning @PumaPodcastPH team for y’all to hear our interviews with paid trolls & strategists discussing the business of political campaigns. Hear them *try* to justify themselves. Find out what pushes them to quit https://t.co/iVlgH8a525
— Jonathan Corpus Ong (@jonathan_c_ong) May 1, 2022
If there’s anything shocking you’ll discover from this podcast, it’s the magnitude of this network of disinformation in the country. Online trolls aren’t just jobless students in computer shops looking for an easy side gig. They’re also university graduates and some are even rich enough to stay in luxurious apartments connected to 5-star hotels even without being paid for the gig.
Catch Me If You Can hosts also share their insights gained from years of research on network disinformation. You’ll discover just how online trolls work in a hierarchy that’s incredibly organized and thought-out, orchestrated by PR firms and ad agencies. It’s been years in the making, a kind of machinery that won’t fall easily.
If you don’t like reading, maybe you’ll like listening
Look, academic research papers are cool and all but some folks like listening to audio explanations better. Catch Me If You Can gives everyone just that — a feeling as if we’re conversing with the hosts. It’s simply the best local podcast out there tackling fake news and the troll network. And TBH, if we want to start toppling this network or even stand a chance battling it, the best way is to arm ourselves with facts and knowledge.
So listen to this podcast while you’re doing house chores, on your commute, or in any pocket of free time you have. Share it with your friends while you’re at it.
But if you do prefer to read…
Those who want to soak in every piece of information about how this network of disinformation works can check out a 2018 in-depth study on the topic. Catch Me If You Can‘s host Ong and Jason Cabañes from the University of Leeds authored an 82-page research entitled “Architects of Networked Disinformation.”
The study delves into the network of troll accounts and fake news production in the Philippines, something that some politicians used to heavily weaponize social media to gain votes during the 2016 elections. It also exposed how it was PR firms and ad agencies — not social media influencers — that were the brains behind the “digital black ops.”
You can read a copy of the study for free here.