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PNP asks for Facebook's help in dummy account probe

The Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Tuesday, June 9, that it needs the help of Facebook in its investigation of duplicate accounts on the social media platform.

At the Laging Handa briefing, PNP chief General Archie Gamboa said that he has already ordered the police's anti-cybercrime unit to probe the dummy accounts.

"We need the cooperation of Facebook administrators or may-ari ng Facebook para mapabilis ito. Kung hindi sila papahabulin agad pwede sila magdeactivate at magmomonitor na naman tayo," Gamboa said.

(We need the cooperation of Facebook administrators or the owner of Facebook to fast track this investigation. If we can't track that down immediately, the perpetrators can easily deactivate the accounts and we will monitor from scratch again.)

Multiple dummy accounts surfaced starting June 6, as Filipinos across the country reported accounts created in their names without a profile photo nor friends.  In some instances, their personal photos are used as profile pictures of the fake accounts.

Victims of the dummy accounts include activists, non-activists, and personalities. (READ: 'I don’t feel safe, Facebook': After discovery of ghost accounts, users demand better account protection)

Gamboa said that the police has yet to deterrmine whether this is linked to opposition to the anti-terrorism bill which recently hurdled Congress, as alleged by activists linked.

Lawmakers also warned that the proliferation of fake accounts could be used to "plant evidence" against critics of the Duterte administration.

"We still have to find out the connection because we don't want to conclude without appropriate basis. But once we can profile those who created the fake accounts, then we can have our own conclusions," Gamboa said in a mix of English and Filipino.

The Department of Justice's Office of Cybercrime previously said that it will look into the matter. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra himseld had said the emergence of the fake accounts gave him "cause for worry."

Facebook on June 7 also committed to investigate the matter and urged users to continue reporting suspicious accounts. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.

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