Gov’t calls for new policies to regulate Facebook

Published September 30, 2020, 1:54 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government has called for new policies to regulate Facebook to “level the playing field” after it supposedly engaged in censoring pro-government posts online.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 25, 2020 in this photo illustration a Facebook App logo is displayed on a smartphone in Arlington, Virginia. - Facebook on August 10, 2020 said it has created a new unit devoted to financial services to harmonize payment systems on its platform. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP)

According to presidential spokesman Harry Roque, the Philippines is “not alone” in seeking reforms in Facebook, citing that even its co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has recognized the need for regulation of the social media giant.

“Ang pinagsimulan po ng Facebook, kinakailangang ikonek nga iyong mga kaibigan at mga kamag-anak pero ngayon po nagagamit na talaga siya sa pulitika (Facebook started with connecting with friends and relatives but it is now being used in politics),” Roque said during a press briefing Tuesday.

“So, nagbabago iyong anyo ng Facebook. Kinakailangan din magkaroon po tayo ng mga bagong mga patakaran ‘no para naman po magkaroon ng level playing field diyan po sa Facebook (Facebook is changing. We need new policies to level the playing field on Facebook),” he added.

Asked if Facebook regulation will require legislation, Roque said: “Well, it could, but you see even the founder of Facebook recognizes that there may be a need for regulation.”

President Duterte recently called out Facebook for removing several accounts that supported the government interests such as fighting the communist insurgency. Duterte, in his televised address Monday night, asked why he should allow Facebook to continue operating in the country.

“You know Facebook, insurgency is about overthrowing the government,” Duterte said.  “What would be the point of allowing you to continue if you cannot help us?” he asked. 

Duterte said he wanted to talk to Facebook after questioning the social media giant’s purpose in the country.

“If you cannot help me protect government interest, then let us talk. We may or we may not find the solution. If we cannot, then I’m sorry,” he said. 

Facebook took down last week a network of fake accounts, traced in China and the Philippines, for allegedly engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

In seeking a dialogue with Facebook, Roque said the President believes in freedom of speech and does not tolerate “censorship” of pro-government advocacies.

“In freedom of speech jurisprudence, content-based restriction is presumed to be unconstitutional,” he said.

“They may use as justification inauthentic behavior but the effect is censorship kasi iyong ideya na laman ng page na iyon nabura (because the idea contained in the page is removed),” he said.

Roque also urged the groups behind the pages taken down by Facebook to bring the matter to the court.

“The entire planet is waiting for jurisprudence in this regard,” he said.