Admin solon threatens to stop Facebook from deleting content, banning users

Published September 1, 2021, 1:07 PM

by Ben Rosario

Another administration lawmaker questioned Facebook over censorship issues amid efforts by the social media giant to block suspected troll farms that are being blamed for the spread of fake news and disinformation in the Philippines, the world’s No. 1 social media user.

Deputy Speaker and Bagong Henerasyon Partylist Rep. Bernadette Herrera has sought a dialogue with Facebook’s country manager in the Philippines as she chided the popular social media site for “unilaterally removing content it deemed inappropriate for its platform.”

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Herrera said “such practice tends to to undermine the freedom of expression that is guaranteed under the Philippine Constitution.”

Two week ago, Anakalusugan Partylist Rep. Michael Defensor filed House Resolution No. 2112 proposing a congressional inquiry into the alleged information censorship methods imposed by Facebook.

“Considering Facebook’s huge influence in our country’s moral, political, national security and also in securing private corporate interests, there is a need to clarify its Information Censorship Methods,” Defensor said in filing HR 2112.

Defensor received flak for this move as many social media users backed Facebook for taking serious efforts to block groups and individuals from using its platform to mislead and spread fake news.

“I fully agree with the need for ensuring our people are informed with the truth, especially in times of great uncertainty. However, I must heed the call of the people when they allege their freedoms of expression have been undermined and are uncertain as to the cause,” Herrera said in her letter to Facebook on Aug. 31, 2021.

The partylist solon claimed that she has received “numerous reports from her constituents that their posts have been unjustly and unceremoniously deleted despite the fact that such information is not fake news, nor libelous, and within the community guidelines.”

She warned the possibility of Congress passing a legislation that would stop Facebook and other social media platforms from deleting content or banning users who do not break Philippine laws.

“This is already happening in other countries like the United States, Poland and Hungary. The Philippines can also do that by passing a law prohibiting social media platforms from censoring free speech,” said Herrera.

She was referring to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis decisioin to sign a law that will prohibit social media sites from banning persons from posting political messages.

A federal judge stopped the enforcement of the law that would have held liable the social media firms for censoring political candidates.

Similar legislative proposals filed in Poland and Hungary have yet to be approved.

Last year, Facebook disclosed that several social media accounts belonging to two networks in China and Philippines were removed after finding them guilty of “coordinated inauthentic behavior or manipulation of campaigns.” The Philippine network was traced to a group associated with the military that is being accused of red-tagging individuals critical of the Duterte administration.

A total 57 Facebook accounts, 31 pages and 20 Instagram accounts allied with the siad network have been taken down.

The social media giant noted that people behind the activities of the said accounts coordinated with one another and had used bogus accounts allegedly found to post misleading information.