Disinformation

How Maggie Wilson’s disinformation battle helped expose paid propagandists

Ailla Dela Cruz

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How Maggie Wilson’s disinformation battle helped expose paid propagandists
Here's an overview explaining the basics of how Maggie Wilson's disinformation battle helped expose a campaign funding propagandists and disinformation influencers

Paid online attacks and propaganda are now, or perhaps have been, part of the influencer ecosystem that’s been in place since the advent of YouTube, TikTok, and other forms of social media.

An unlikely source that’s helped bring to light acts of paid trolling and other unsavory influencer behavior has been Maggie Wilson’s fight against such tactics being used against her, as well as a host of concerned social media users and influencers who’ve helped connect the dots.

Here’s an overview explaining the basics of how Maggie Wilson’s disinformation battle helped expose a campaign funding propagandists and disinformation influencers.

Explaining Maggie Wilson’s fight against trolls

On September 26, 2023, Maggie Wilson, model and now entrepreneur, called out in her Instagram “influencers” who were allegedly paid to troll her and her company, Acasa Manila, online. 

Wilson, through a series of Instagram stories, showed screenshots of the conversations ordering certain “influencers” to create campaign videos against Acasa Manila.

Some screenshots showed they were paid P8,000 in exchange for content calling Acasa Manila a scam. 

The script

Prior to Wilson’s reveal, several Tiktok users pointed out the obvious similar script of the paid content creators. People pointed out the same script, flow, hashtags, and graphics such as screenshots. 

A leaked group conversation revealed a script or a flow of narrative was given to these paid content creators. There were instructed to amplify a supposedly circulating issue on Instagram that Acasa Manila was a scam. They were given screenshots of posts to show, and articles to cite. Creators were also asked to drag Wilson’s partner, Tim Connor, into the issue by saying he was also involved in another scam in the United Kingdom. Hashtags to use in their posts, such as #givebackthemoney, #whinyWilson, and #lagotsiMaggot, were given as well.

They were tasked to add reactions or ad libs to make it more believable, yet they failed to do so, hence the viewers’ observation. 

As a result of the backlash from the viewers, the paid content creators were tasked to create a follow up video denying it was scripted. According to revealed screenshots, a certain “Benedict Paredes” pointed out they were given the idea to create a video with their added adlibs but none followed and just posted a video straight from the given script instead. 

Creators were then tasked to create a second video, and to submit drafts as soon as possible according to the conversation. 

Caution in posting a follow-up video was observed in the leaked conversation. A certain “Angel” whose talent fee was delayed, said she would wait first for her talent fee to come through before making a second video. Angel said she turned off her comment section on the night of her posting, speculating it was the reason for her delayed talent fee. 

Benedict, on the other hand, assured creators none of them would be jailed in posting such a campaign, citing prior experience in political campaigns.

He said: “Alam niyo na dapat yan simula palang nang political campaign. Wala namang nakulong na influ [that] time.” (You should know by now that ever since the political campaign. No influencers were jailed that time.)

Retracted statements

Upon Wilson’s reveal in her Instagram, creators involved began to retract their videos, admitting they were paid. They started to post public apologies to admit they were paid and tasked to create such campaigns. 

Sendrijas Jeff, one of the creators who posted a video and recruited others to join the campaign, released a public apology to Maggie Wilson on Tiktok on September 27. He admitted that a certain someone gave them scripts to post. He clarified that there is another person handling the talent fee.

Meanwhile, Yassy Goodvibes, another content creator, admitted not knowing Acasa Manila and the scam issue despite posting the video. He said he accepted the offer to create a content for an talent fee of P8,000 because he needed money to buy his grandmother’s medicines. 

Other content creators who retracted their released campaign videos were Indayy Ashley (indayyashley), Suyo Queen (linaloutinoy7), Ariel Gumboc (putikkweenofficial123), Aechie Roquero, Kim_Banawan (VampireQueen), Sam Angela, Erol (erolbaylon17), Aljun Lacida (aljune_lacida), Jarvy Callora (jarvy13), Alexa (alexanicole1013), Aaron (iancharles1609), Rolyn Jay (rolyn_jay), and Angel Anadia (angelanadia21). 

The political campaign connection

Several internet users had pointed out the content creators involved in the smear campaign against Wilson were the same creators amplifying President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s programs and activities, with their posts sharing similar scripts, narrative flow, and hashtags. 

A Twitter user named Ashley (@elisseashley) said in a tweet on September 27 that Tiktok creators JL Torres, Sendrijas Jeff, and Indayy Ashley – who were all involved in the campaign against Wilson – posted about the purported rice program of Marcos on the same time. Ashley provided screenshots of the post; however, the videos were unavailable as of posting on the creators’ accounts. 

Twitter users @dumidyeypee and @riajose pointed out in separate tweet threads that a number of hashtags were seemingly used by these content creators.

The hashtags used were #umaarangkadangpilipinas, #BagongPilipinas, #2023Pilipinas, #progresibongPilipinas, #IbaNaAngPilipinas, and #BagongPilipinas2023. 

Among the events or programs that were observed to be amplified with the said hashtags were the Department of Agriculture’s provision of easy access to affordable loans, Kadiwa initiatives, cash aid for sari-sari store owners, Marcos foreign trips, price ceiling on rice, inflation, the new agrarian emancipation law, accomplishments of Marcos and his wife Liza Araneta-Marcos, and the Malampaya contract renewal, among others. 

Tiktok user Barri_the_Legend posted a compilation of creators involved in the smear campaign against Wilson that used the above-mentioned hashtags in some of their videos. Creators included in the compilation were Sam Angela, Erol, Rolyn Jay, Aljun Lacida, Ian Charles, Indayy Ashley, and Zellqt. – Rappler.com

1 comment

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  1. ET

    Thanks to the efforts of Ms. Maggie Wilson in fighting against dis-informers. Her efforts did indeed help expose campaign funding propagandists and disinformation influencers, which is also linked to the Marcos Disinformation Machinery. As these persons are unraveled one by one, we now have a CONCRETE image of the Marcos Disinformation Machinery. Next targets? How about that of Former President Digong and VP Sara?

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