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Jonathan Corpus Ong - University of Massachusetts Amherst. Amherst, MA, US

Jonathan Corpus Ong

Associate Professor of Global Digital Media, Department of Communication | University of Massachusetts Amherst


Jonathan Corpus Ong's research areas are global media ethics, digital politics and the anthropology of humanitarianism.

Expertise (9)

Elections in the Philippines

Media Ethics

Global Media Studies

Critical Disinformation Studies

Sociology of Activist Organizations

Interethnic Racism and Solidarities

Anthropology of Humanitarianism and Human Rights

Politics in the Global South

Disinformation and Misinformation


Jonathan Corpus Ong has published three books and over 25 journal articles in areas of global media ethics, digital politics, and the anthropology of humanitarianism.

In his disinformation studies research, he uses ethnography to understand the social identities, work arrangements and moral justifications of "paid trolls" and political public relations strategists.

A popular media analyst, his “disinformation whistleblowers podcast,” Catch Me If You Can, is now in its second season and was ranked in among the Top 5% Most Followed Podcasts globally by Spotify in 2022.

Social Media






Reimagining the Internet 57. Jonathan Corpus Ong, UMass Amherst


Education (3)

University of Cambridge: Ph.D., Sociology

London School of Economics: M.Sc., Politics and Communication

Loyola Schools - Ateneo de Manila: B.A., Communication

Select Media Coverage (7)

Proposed Philippine TikTok ban needs basis — experts

BusinessWorld  online


Jonathan Corpus Ong comments on a proposal to ban TikTok in the Philippines. The proposal by public officials to outlaw the short-form video platform over surveillance concerns is indicative of “broader geopolitical tensions and our own state agencies wanting to show they’re falling in line with allies,” Ong says.

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The truth about upholding “truth” in the disinformation age with Jonathan Corpus Ong

Philstar Life  online


For over 6 years, Jonathan Corpus Ong has been a prominent voice in our fight against disinformation. An associate professor at the University of Massachusetts and a Harvard fellow, Ong’s work focuses on shaping the narratives around disinformation. His recent research, “The Evolution of Disinformation in Three Electoral Cycles,” mapped out disinformation innovations in the past three elections and its consequences on civil society.

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Still blaming ‘bobotantes’ for the spread of fake news?

Philippine Daily Inquirer  online


“In reality, it’s an open secret that many advertising agencies, PR consultants and influencers earn big bucks during political campaigns,” said Jonathan Corpus Ong, one of the six coauthors of the study titled “The Evolution of Disinformation in Three Electoral Cycles.”

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This podcast deep-dives into the world of trolling

ABS-CBN News  


“To fight disinformation properly, we first need to understand in-depth who the enemy is,” says disinformation researcher and Harvard University professor Jonathan Corpus Ong. And this is exactly the reason his podcast titled “Catch Me If You Can,” cohosted by journalist Kat Ventura and produced by PumaPodcast, is back for a second season.

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A Suspected Killer’s Fans Are Still Promoting Him Online

Wired  online


Popular trends like reaction videos, which can repurpose content and make it harder for moderation systems to identify, can also help content live on, says Jonathan Corpus Ong, associate professor of global digital media at the University of Massachusetts. “I saw that some of the original videos are not there anymore, but I’ve found recordings of the original taken by somebody recording on their phone,” says Ong. “Even if a platform tries to scrub the content, a couple days after the original upload it could still be re-uploaded in various forms.”

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As a dictator’s son rises to power, disinformation fractures Filipino families

The Washington Post  print


That online effort didn’t end with his candidacy but rather continues today, said Jonathan Ong, a disinformation researcher who studied the 2016 and 2022 elections. “The Marcoses are saying they are victims of a miswritten history,” he said, adding that Bongbong uses that sense of grievance to connect with ordinary Filipinos frustrated with the status quo. Much of the analysis has focused on Marcos’s alleged use of troll farms and bots to attack critics, Ong said. But what the campaign did effectively was to flood social media with a “creative archive” of Marcos “folklore” that appealed to many demographics.

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Research on fake news gets prestigious Carnegie grant

CNN  online


Online propaganda wars continue to shape online conversations with our country’s future at stake. This has been the focus of the research of Filipino professor Jonathan Corpus Ong, who has been recently named a 2022 Andrew Carnegie Fellow by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. He has co-authored several studies on the subject, such as “Architects of Networked Disinformation: Behind the Scenes of Troll Accounts and Fake News Production in the Philippines” and “Politics and Profit in the Fake News Factory.”

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Select Publications (5)

Philippine Elections 2022

Contemporary Southeast Asia

Jonathan Corpus Ong


Social media was central to Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s electoral success, but not in the sense that his campaign had somehow unlocked their hidden features for technological brainwashing. Unfortunately, some pundits looking for quick rationalizations for his landslide victory in the May 2022 polls repeated much of the same explanatory devices from 2016.

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The World Should Be Worried About a Dictator’s Son's Apparent Win in the Philippines

TIME Magazine

Jonathan Corpus Ong


After a maddening campaign season, which saw a polarized electorate disagree on everything from the methodology of opinion polls to the moral significance of showing up for public debates, voters in the Philippines have elected a new set of leaders.

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Demystifying disinformation shadow economies: fake news work models in Indonesia and the Philippines

Asian Journal of Communication


Engaging with the special issue theme of media freedom ‘from below,’ this article contributes ethnographically grounded and comparative research of two democratic Southeast Asian countries dealing with urgent threats to media freedom and democracy: Indonesia and the Philippines.

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Toward a worker-centered analysis in fighting disinformation: global south perspectives on the political economy of 'fake news'



This forum focuses on the conditions and futures of the labor underpinning technology production and maintenance. We welcome standalone articles as well as interviews and conversations about all tech labor within the global supply chain of digital technologies.

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Limits and luxuries of slow research in radical war: how should we represent perpetrators?

Digital War


How can ethnography and principles of “slow research” help make sense of fast-moving battles for truth, attention, and control in digital environments? What are emerging crises of representation and intervention that researchers face when retelling narratives of perpetrators, trolls, or other social media “bad actors”?

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