DILG chief slams FB, questions media platform’s sense of fairness

Published October 5, 2020, 2:42 PM

by Chito Chavez

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año questioned Monday the sense of fairness of media platform Facebook.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año

He criticized “Facebook’s unilateral act of taking down supposedly fake Philippine accounts that were allegedly linked to the military and police establishments for violating its policy against ‘coordinated inauthentic behavior’ or CIB because it was ‘done without prior consultation nor were the administrators of these accounts afforded due process.’’

Año accused Facebook which has a huge following in the Philippines for not being “transparent in the conduct of its investigation on the questioned Philippine accounts.’’

“We are also concerned with Facebook’s sense of fairness. These pages were private accounts and must enjoy the guarantee of free speech on major issues of social concern under the Philippine Constitution and Philippine laws,’’ Año said.

The DILG chief cited as an example that “while it has actively deleted alleged fake pages linked to the military and police, it has surprisingly failed to root out the bots, or automated accounts, that are being maintained by political and armed groups that are actively seeking to overthrow duly constituted authority in the country.’’

Año doubted Facebook’s commitment to effectively police its own platform and the bias of their advisors.

While it has taken down alleged pro-government pages, Año accused the social media platform of allowing “unfettered access to hate speech spreaders and purveyors of fake news from Communist Terrorist Groups, for example, who are actively working to bring down our democratic way of life.’’

He disclosed that 57 Facebook accounts, 31 pages, and 20 Instagram accounts originating in the Philippines were removed without prior notice nor advice to the administrators of these accounts.

Año urged Facebook officials to hold talks with government counterparts to address the issue, roll back changes, and restore the Facebook pages in question “whenever possible.’’

He explained the recent developments highlighted “the need for the social media company and government to dialogue to clarify and improve the former’s policies in accordance with Philippine laws.’’

“Such action would further reinforce what Mark Zuckerberg has been saying all along that it’s a marketplace of ideas that brings people together ‘so they can then share information and ideas about the things that they’re passionate about’,’’ Año concluded.