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The six villains you’ll encounter online

onlineBy Mark Isaiah David

If movies and television shows are to be our basis, the Age of Heroes is upon us. Whether it’s the Marvel Cinematic Universe dominating the cinemas or DC’s various heroes filling up our small screens, it is undeniable that people can’t get enough of heroes.

Yet, heroes are nothing without the villains that test them. And while we (thankfully) don’t have any Doctor Doom, Ultron, or mutant-hunting sentinels that plague us, we do have our own ‘super villains’ we encounter everyday online. Here’s a few of them:



1. THE PHISHER MANonline 2

Powers: Shape-shifting. The ability to take on the appearance of official-looking websites/emails/communication

Battle Cry: “Give us your account details to claim your prize!”

Description: The fiendish Phisher Man tricks people into submitting their personal information that can be used to hijack online identities and accounts. Unlike other online criminals who attack innocents by hacking, the Phisher Man utilizes trickery and deceit to make his victims voluntarily give critical details.

How To Vanquish: Constant Vigilance! Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Verify, verify, verify. And if something feels too good to be true (you’ve won something and you only need to send something to claim your prize, etc.), it’s more than likely a phishing attack.




Powers: The ability to believe anything and everything.

Battle Cry: “I read it somewhere in the internet so it must be true…”

Description: Guy Gullible is usually an underestimated villain, and that’s why most of us permit him to stay in our social media feed. Because he truly believes everything and anything that he reads (no matter how ludicrous), he gleefully shares the FB hoax of the month, the scams he receives, and the most ludicrous misinformation campaigns. While Guy Gullible may not be outright malicious, his inability to judge between what is believable and what is far-fetched and his penchant for sharing everything makes him an inadvertent poster child of idiocy and a minion of scammers.

How To Vanquish: Snopes, Hoax Busters, Break The Chain, Truth Or Fiction, and dozens of other fact-checking sites that have already done the work and verified the veracity of internet stories.



3. MR. IST

Powers: The ability to blend in with the general (decent) public until their darker (shameful) alter ego comes out

Battle Cry: “I’m not racist/sexist/ageist/whateverist, BUT…”

Description: Have you ever had a friend whom you thought was a normal, decent guy, but after some drinks/in an unguarded moment/in an unexpected situation, ugly, bigoted things come out from his mouth? Then you’ve faced the Mr. Hyde of your Dr. Jekyll friend – you’ve faced a Mr. Ist!

How To Vanquish: Here’s a pro tip: you can safely ignore any statement followed by the word ‘but…’. So if your friend starts saying prejudiced idiocies like “I’m not a bigot, but I think people should have varying rights based on their sexual orientation” or “I’m not an elitist, but I think only those who pay taxes should be able to vote,” don’t let your friendship prevent you from calling him on it. Don’t let anything pass. Mr. Ists are usually blind to their own chauvinisms, and darkness can only be banished by shining a light.




Powers: Tunnel vision, undying loyalty to a chosen, ability to shrug off logic and sound reasoning


Description: The Tard finds an idol to whom he will give his utmost devotion and loyalty (usually a showbiz personality, a sports figure, or even a politician). Once he latches on the object of his zealotry, he will defend his idol no matter how appalling are his actions. The idol says he will put criminals behind bars and yet pardon a plunderer and put to rest a dictator/murderer on the ‘Libingan ng Mga Bayani’? The Tards say “Amen”. The idol makes vulgar remarks about women that if made by other men will result to fisticuffs on the street? The Tards shout that their idol is only joking and that all is well.

How To Vanquish: Reason will not avail you when you’re up against The Tard. Your only hope is in Patience – since they’re only following a human (therefore flawed) and not standing on principle, the time will come that their unimpeachable, irreproachable, perfect idol will contradict himself and that is when you strike. But even that will probably not put down The Tard; their fanaticism forms a formidable logic-proof shield. The only time a Tard will change is when he feels that his idol personally betrayed him – like for example, when he or his family becomes the victim of something he used to espouse (like extra-judicial killings). When he becomes the victim, that’s the time The Tard will see beyond the pedestal where he put his idol in the first place.





Powers: The uncanny knack of getting upset over anything

Battle Cry: “This offends me!”

Description: You’re never in the right when you face Sensitivity Sam. Whatever you say can and will offend him and he will use it against you. Don’t say anything and he’ll also find fault in your silence. No joke, no anecdote, no satire is safe. And don’t even start about your ‘Freedom of Expression’ – his hurt feelings are of paramount importance here.

How To Vanquish: Good cheer is the best antidote against Sensitivity Sam’s perpetually slighted demeanor. If you engage Sensitivity Sam and explain why you meant no offense, he will only get more upset and think that you’re not understanding him. Just apologize, and get on with your life. Your cheery disposition is the perfect protection against Sensitivity Sam’s unendingly dour perspective.




Powers: Cutting watermarks, erasing all evidence of prior ownership

Battle Cry: “MINE!” when stealing; “Oooops. Sorry” when caught.

Description: The Content Snatcher laughs in the face of intellectual property and just claims what he wishes. He will appropriate the content that you worked so hard to create with his cutting tool (erasing your logo or name) and pasting instrument (inserting his own marks). Even big-name content creators and publications have been known to use content generated by various people without proper compensation or even appropriate attribution.

How To Vanquish: Screencaps is the bane of the Content Snatcher’s existence. Prove that the content is yours and expose their wrongdoing to the public. If public shaming fails, you can always sue. Stealing is stealing – don’t let them get away with their crime.



Online villains are a pain to encounter, but as a good and well-informed online citizen, it is your noble duty – a heroic burden, some might even say – to face these villains head-on. And when you do battle, be sure to gird yourself with an armor of vigilance, common sense, good cheer, and maturity to ensure your victory.

Battle misinformation. Defend the victims of scams and theft. Draw a line against bigotry. Be the hero the Internet deserves.