#HandsOffOurStudents trends as Filipinos call out fake accounts swarming Facebook


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#HandsOffOurStudents trends as Filipinos call out fake accounts swarming Facebook
'The real terrorists are behind these attacks to the privacy and security of students and people who are critical of the administration's incompetence,' a netizen says


MANILA, Philippines – #HandsOffOurStudents is a call echoed by several netizens as suspicious fake accounts of students and alumni flooded Facebook on Sunday, June 7.

Seen by many as a scare tactic to silence critics of the administration, they slammed the creation of the accounts and called for the safety of the youth. By mid-afternoon, #HandsOffOurStudents is trending on Twitter in the Philippines with more than 20,000 tweets. 

Various student groups had first flagged the existence of dummy accounts bearing the names of several University of the Philippines (UP) students and alumni. (READ: Users report duplicate, dummy Facebook accounts in PH)

Initially, they noticed duplicate accounts of the activists arrested during an anti-terrorism bill protest on Friday, June 5.

The proliferation of blank and duplicate accounts eventually covered not only UP students and alumni but also from other schools. This came days after the passage of the anti-terror bill that critics fear could be used to clamp down on Filipinos’ basic freedoms. 

The UP Office of the Student Regent added that these dummy accounts are suspected to cause harm or spread false information online.

Netizens were baffled to find duplicate accounts under their name, urging others to stay vigilant and be wary of messages and threats coming from the dummy accounts.

Others saw the proliferation of blank accounts as attacks on progressives and critics, saying that these could possibly be used to frame people as terrorists if the anti-terror bill is enacted into law. (READ: #JunkTerrorBill: Sign this petition to help uphold human rights)

With the anti-terror bill, people can be accused of inciting to terrorism through their speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems and banners. The bill will also authorize the arrest and detention, of anyone who expresses dissent to government.

Many lambasted how efforts to quell criticism and dissent are prioritized over more important matters such as effective coronavirus response and mass testing.

With attacks now targeting young students, netizens called on Filipinos to stay vigilant and urged others to continue speaking out despite attempts to intimidate them.

Here’s what other netizens have to say about the matter: 

With multiple reports of existing fake Facebook accounts, here’s how you can report accounts pretending to be someone you know or someone that doesn’t exist.

– Rappler.com


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