DND investigating fake Facebook accounts – Lorenzana

JC Gotinga

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DND investigating fake Facebook accounts – Lorenzana
'Of course, the cooperation of Facebook is needed,' says Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) is launching its own probe into the proliferation of fake user accounts on Facebook, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed to Rappler on Monday, June 8.

“Of course, the cooperation of Facebook is needed,” Lorenzana said.

The DND has its own capabilities to check the incident, and it has communicated with the social media giant to find out who is responsible, Lorenzana told reporters at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on Monday.

“It’s a cause for concern. It creates discordant voices among the people na dapat naman wala (that shouldn’t be happening),” he said.

The defense chief said he himself worries that his own Facebook account might be hacked and planted with incriminating posts.

Senator Francis Pangilinan and Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate earlier expressed worry that the dummy Facebook accounts may be used to plant incriminating evidence against activists and dissenters, in light of the looming enactment of the anti-terrorism bill into law.

Lorenzana said both supporters and critics of the proposed law are accusing the other side of faking the Facebook accounts.

“So titingnan natin ano ba talaga dahilan. Nagtatapunan na ng paratang ang isa’t isa (So we’ll get to the bottom of it. Both sides are hurling accusations at the other),” he added.

Meanwhile, the DND and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are working on modernizing their cybersecurity capabilities, the defense chief said.

Beginning Saturday, June 6, Facebook users discovered multiple dummy accounts being created in their name. The first published report of the incident was by Tugani, the official student publication of the University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu.

At first appearing to involve Facebook accounts of students arrested during a rally at UP Cebu on Friday, June 5, the proliferation of the mimic accounts turned out to involve many other users, activist or not.

The students were protesting the anti-terrorism bill, which gives the government broader powers to identify groups and individuals as terrorists, and to effect longer warrantless arrests of terror suspects.

Following widespread calls from its users, Facebook on Sunday, June 7, said it was investigating the dummy accounts.

The Department of Justice’s Office of Cybercrime will work with the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police to carry out its own investigation, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Sunday.

At least 5% of Facebook’s worldwide monthly active users are believed to be fake accounts. In the 1st quarter of 2020, the company said it removed 1.7 billion fake accounts from its platform globally. – Rappler.com

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JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.