PH President slams Facebook for recent sweep of fake accounts

PH President slams Facebook for recent sweep of fake accounts

Facebook has been hard at work clearing its platform of misinformation and other violations of its usage policy. Its recent sweep earned a warning from the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Last week, Facebook made headlines after it reported the reason behind its recent mass account takedown. Accordingly, reports show that the social media giant took down a total of 155 “fake accounts,” says SCMP.

The thing is, the takedown wasn’t centered on the Asian country alone. Facebook also confirms taking down networks that allegedly originated in Russia.

It is also being vigilant in Myanmar and in the United States for the upcoming elections.

Duterte warns the platform

The New York Times reports that during the president’s weekly public address, he tackled the recent issue with Facebook.

His comment implies that he might be calling for a sit-down.

“I allow you to operate here,” the PH president asserted. ” You cannot bar or prevent me from espousing the objectives of government. Is there life after Facebook? I don’t know. But we need to talk.”

“We allow you to operate here hoping that you could help us also,” he further expressed.

The news outlet further quotes Duterte, saying:

“Now, if the government cannot espouse or advocate something which is for the good of the people, then what is your purpose here in my country?”

Per NBC Newsthe president argued that what’s happening is actually a “fight of ideas.” He then reiterates the need to talk, citing that “insurgency is about overturning the government.”

“If you are promoting the cause of the rebellion…, if you cannot reconcile the idea of what your purpose is or was, then we have to talk.”

Facebook’s sweep

On September 22, Facebook released a statement announcing that they’ve found “two separate networks” that were deemed violating the platform’s policy against coordinated inauthentic behavior (CIB).

One of which was coming from China, while the other originated in the Philippines

Facebook’s explanation reads:

“In each case, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts as a central part of their operations to mislead people about who they are and what they are doing, and that was the basis for our action. When we investigate and remove these operations, we focus on behavior rather than content, no matter who’s behind them, what they post, or whether they’re foreign or domestic.”

As to the content of these pages/accounts. Facebook says:

“[T]hey posted in Chinese, Filipino and English about global news and current events including Beijing’s interests in the South China Sea; Hong Kong; content supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte and Sarah Duterte’s potential run in the 2022 Presidential election; criticism of Rappler, an independent news organization in the Philippines; issues relevant to the overseas Filipino workers; and praise and some criticism of China. In the US, where this network focused the least and gained almost no following, they posted content both in support of and against presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden and Donald Trump.”

Facebook took down accounts that are in clear violation of its policy. Specifically against “foreign or government interference.”

Among the accounts and pages that got taken down were coming from the country’s military and law enforcement arm.

Executives in the platform’s PH operations have declined to comment, says The New York Times. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has expressed that this action is “a form of censorship.”


Featured image courtesy of Tim Bennet/Unsplash

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