The rise of trolls in the Philippines (and what we can do about it)

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This chapter contributes to efforts at establishing a general account of the increasingly vitriolic online political trolling coming out of many democratically inclined societies. It pays particular attention to the rise online political trolling in the Philippines. We provide sociological explanations for this phenomenon and assess whether and how this plays a role in fostering a democratic media in the country. We begin by considering the definition of an online political troll. We argue that in the Philippines, as in many other contexts, one needs to be careful in approaching such a contested term. We then look at the role of the online political troll in Philippine politics. We attend to how they have gained unprecedented popularity through the distinct dynamics of the country’s democracy but also to how they have undermined the possibility of making better this very same democracy. We conclude by turning to normative frameworks that might help the public sphere move away from the pernicious predominance of toxic online political trolling.