This Podcast Dives Into the Murky Waters of Filipino Internet Culture
Love true crime documentaries? Well, there’s nothing more criminal than disinformation. Popular Filipino podcast Catch Me If You Can returns with its second season focusing on trolls, voter manipulation, misinformation, and the insidious side of Filipino internet culture.
But that’s not all—the podcast’s new set of episodes explores the better side of the internet as well, like the LBGT community’s massive campaigns, the Gen Zs and their relentless meme factories, and even the titillating “alter” culture online.
The six episodes of season two of Catch Me If You Can are co-hosted by disinformation researcher Jonathan Corpus Ong and journalist Kat Ventura, who do the dirty work of diving into the shady world of trolls, propaganda, and political online scheming.
“Our show is about challenging easy stereotypes of who we think ‘trolls’ are. For us to fight disinformation properly, we first need to understand in-depth who the enemy is,” Ong says, who is a full-time professor at the University of Massachusetts and Harvard University.
“The trolls we meet in the show are not what you imagine as unthinking copy-paste operators stuck in a Davao call center; they’re college degree holders from good universities recruited for well-paying side gigs. Each episode has been a story of easy complicity with a powerful takeaway: ‘this could have been you!’”
Of course, the podcast aims to be more than just a whistle-blowing platform. The goal is to become a jumping-off point for more important conversations about ethics and integrity online.
“We want our podcast to discuss ethics—or the lack of it—in creative industries, media, and politics. We are very mindful about protecting our sources and we never want to name-and-shame any one individual,” says Ventura. “What we’re aiming for is more workers to blow the whistle on industries and organizations that make disinformation their profitable business.”
But it’s not all bad news. Season two is also exploring the hopeful and humorous side of Filipino internet culture, like the “beki” influencers powering advocacies and campaigns.
“We believe [the podcast] can reach listeners in a different way, deepen the discourse, and hopefully provide a space for people to listen to each other,” says PumaPodcast CEO Carl Javier. “Its first three episodes shot up the charts, and that tells us that this pod is important to people. It’s providing them with information and insight that’s helping them navigate the challenges of the disinformation landscape. I couldn’t be more excited to hear what Jonathan and Kat have in store in the coming episodes.”
For more resources and educational purposes, you can check out the PumaPodcast blog for transcripts.