Palace hopes Facebook would exercise prudence, says Roque

Published September 23, 2020, 5:30 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang expressed hope that social networking site Facebook would express prudence in its actions, particularly in removing accounts, to eliminate any doubts of bias on the company’s part.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after Facebook announced that it took down two separate networks based in the Philippines and China for violating its policy against coordinated inauthentic behavior (CIB) particularly on the use of 155 fake accounts to mislead the people, including those that back Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio’s potential run in 2022.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.

In a statement, Roque said Malacañang respects Facebook’s move to weed out fake accounts.

“Facebook’s recent action of taking down over 100 fake accounts is a matter we leave to the sound judgment and discretion of the popular global social networking company,” he said Wednesday.

Roque said Malacañang has always been against the spread of fake news, lies, and hatred but hoped that the social media giant would exercise prudence in its acts.

“We are one in advocating the truth and dismissing disinformation, lies or hatred,” he said.

“We hope the social media giant would exercise prudence in all its actions to remove any doubt of bias given its power, influence and reach,” he added.

In a statement, Facebook wrote that the people behind the networks it took down 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.

“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,” Facebook’s statement read.

According to Facebook, they have removed 155 accounts, 11 Pages, 9 Groups and 6 Instagram accounts for violating its policy against foreign or government interference which is coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign or government entity.

The said activity originated in China and focused primarily on the Philippines and Southeast Asia, and also on the United States.

“We identified several clusters of connected activity that relied on fake accounts to pose as locals in countries they targeted, post in Groups, amplify their own content, manage Pages, like and comment on other people’s posts,” the company said.

It added that the network’s activity in Southeast Asia included social media posts written in Chinese, Filipino and English. The posts were said to be about the following global news and current events:

· Beijing’s interests in the South China Sea

· Hong Kong

· Content supportive of President Duterte and Duterte-Carpio’s potential run in the 2022 Presidential election

· Criticism of Rappler

· Issues relevant to the overseas Filipino workers

· Praise and some criticism of China.

Even though the people behind this activity tried to conceal their identity, Facebook said they were able to trace them to individuals in Fujian, China.

According to Facebook, about $60 were spent for ads on Facebook paid for in Chinese yuan.

The company likewise removed 57 Facebook accounts, 31 Pages and 20 Instagram accounts for violating our policy against foreign or government interference. This network originated in in the Philippines and focused on domestic audiences.

The said network posted in Filipino and English about local news and events including domestic politics; military activities against terrorism; pending anti-terrorism bill; criticism of communism, youth activists, and opposition, the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDF).

Faceook said they found links of this network to the Philippine military and Philippine police. The network likewise spent around US$1,100 for ads on Facebook paid for in Philippine peso.