How social media revised historical narrative that led to Marcos' victory
By Diana G. Mendoza
Manila – A video of Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. telling an election rally crowd that he received a huge help winning from his social media team – mentioning at least three names – made the rounds of all platforms just after the May 9 elections.
Chuck Treńas, a 33-year-old netizen who is abreast with current events, said the video proved that the late dictator’s namesake son was lying from the very beginning when he first said he had no social media team, much less a troll farm to discredit his critics.
“My friends and I spent days going back eight, 10 and more years, and indeed, the Marcos family’s presence on social media throughout that entire period and to this day was evident,” said Treńas. “The one, huge problem we have from this fact is that Filipinos believed the videos and posts, so they voted for him.”
Elsewhere, the Philippine and international media have reported about how the Marcos family’s supporters worked for years to reformat the narrative regarding the Marcoses during the darkest years of martial rule. The revised narrative claims the Marcos regime marked the nation’s golden years of economic progress and stability.
The 63-year-old Marcos Jr. campaigned on this exact premise and promise – to bring back what he falsely claimed was the golden period of his father’s rule – and won the elections, even without presenting a platform.
Several Marcos supporters are vloggers and bloggers, who use Facebook and Tiktok to distort history and hide the Marcoses’ criminal past through millions of social media posts.
The World Bank and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime have reported that the Marcos family amassed as much as $10 billion in ill-gotten wealth. The UN has also reported that more than 3,000 Filipinos were killed and 35,000 were arrested and tortured during the martial law period.
A recent story by Rappler said the Marcos network painstakingly seeded disinformation and reshaped the narrative surrounding the Marcoses on Facebook over the years prior to building an entire army of Marcos supporters.
“From 2014 to 2022, Marcos Jr., astutely made use of Facebook to change the narrative regarding his family and their crimes against the Filipino people – a move seeded over the years, leading to the 2022 Philippine elections,” said the Rappler report, which indicated that while the Marcos disinformation machinery also used Twitter, his supporters used mainly Tiktok and Facebook.
Rappler’s story quoting a research specialist also noted that from 2014 to 2020, Marcosian posts gradually grew – especially during Marcos Jr.’s 2016 vice-presidential run; his sister Imee’s 2019 senatorial win; and his 2021 filing of candidacy. The myth behind the “Marcos gold,” a topic repeatedly fact-checked and discussed by Rappler, “remained unchecked on the platform, before it mutated to its different variations over the years.”
Treńas said he did not vote for Marcos because his knowledge of the country’s past remains to him as the truth. He said he still couldn’t believe how millions of Filipinos believed what Marcos peddled on social media.
“That Marcos is the next president for the next six years shows how gullible and impressionable Filipinos can be,” he said. “The whole world couldn’t even grasp how it happened but it did. And for that, I am ashamed and will be like that for many years.”