Duterte gov't urges meeting with Facebook on fake accounts

The Duterte government, through the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), is calling for a meeting with Facebook over its shutdown of fake accounts linked to the Philippine police and military.

In a statement on Monday, October 5, the DILG said it was "concerned" about Facebook’s decision to shut down fake accounts. This comes after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to ban Facebook in the Philippines.

The DILG claimed that the accounts shut down were private accounts. Facebook earlier said, however, that the accounts were public and engaged in public discussions that concerned political topics, including the government's campaign against communists, the anti-terror law, youth activism, and the opposition.

A total of 57 Facebook accounts, 31 pages, and 20 Instagram accounts originating in the Philippines were removed for what Facebook described as "inauthentic behavior."

In separate statements issued earlier, the Philippine police and military denied having a hand in the management of accounts that spread disinformation.

At least three soldiers, however, have been identified as operators of fake Facebook accounts.

The police and the military have also been seeking clarification from the social media giant about its criteria for taking down the accounts.

The DILG then claimed that Facebook was clamping down down on pro-government Facebook accounts more than those managed by anti-government organizations, specifically by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Rappler's coverage of online disinformation has revealed, however, that the Duterte government is unparalleled when it comes to tapping a propaganda network on Facebook to drown out dissent and to reinforce the baseless messages transmitted by the President.

Yet the DILG said, "We, therefore, urge Facebook officials to hold talks with government counterparts to address the issue, roll back changes, and restore the Facebook pages in question, whenever possible." – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.

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