A Filipino professor has just proven again that Filipinos are smart and capable.

Jonathan Corpus Ong, an associate professor of global digital media at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a troll account and fake news researcher has just been named a 2022 Andrew Carnegie Fellow. Out of the 300 applicants, he was one of the 28 scholars awarded with $200,000 (USD) or approximately Php 10, 500,000 study grant.

Photo from Jonathan Ong Facebook Page

Carnegie Corporation of New York is a philanthropic foundation that supports education programs across the world.

“the criteria prioritize the originality and promise of the research, its potential impact on the field, and the scholar’s plans for communicating the findings to a broad audience”

-Carnegie Corporation of New York, website

Jonathan Corpus Ong Education Background

  • Has a Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Cambridge as a Bill Gates Scholar in 2011
  • Politics and Communication graduate (class of 2007) at the London School of Economics and Social Science

Ong was inspired to take action in 2016 when he saw all these violence, hate, and attacks online. One of his studies was “Architects of Networked Disinformation: Behind the Scenes of Troll Accounts and Fake News Production in the Philippines”.

Architects of Networked Disinformation: Behind the Scenes of Troll Accounts and Fake News Production in the Philippines Cover | Photo from Jonathan Ong

Ong interviewed political trolls and started with questions like:

  • How much they are getting paid?
  • How did they even get there?
  • What were the life circumstances that would lead a person to sign up to become a troll?
  •  May ethics ba sila? [Do they have ethics?]

The Filipino disinformation researcher got answers of mostly “sideline lang naman ito” [this is just a sideline] and “I just need the extra money,” which made him note that there’s definitely an issue on ethics and morality. He stated that we should focus on the head trolls and not the low-level players (fake account operators).

Photo from Jonathan Ong Facebook Page

Ong’s new study with his Carnegie grant

His new study where he will use the Carnegie grant on will focus on the human cost of disinformation mainly on civil society workers and journalists.

The precarious work conditions that they find themselves in and the impact of toxic content on their job and mental health.

Ong is a true academic researcher that aims to come up with research that would help the world, especially our country, the Philippines, diminish disinformation.

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