DILG slams Facebook for delayed shutdown of illegal 'e-sabong' accounts

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) slammed Facebook on Friday, June 3, for its "much delayed" takedown of accounts engaged in illegal e-sabong operations.

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DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya recognized Facebook’s takedown of the illegal e-sabong pages on June 2 but chided their belated response to the call of authorities to end the unlawful gambling activity.

Stating the supposed "emblematic" culture that has embraced Meta Platforms, Inc. or Facebook, Malaya criticized the social media giant for ignoring the requests of the DILG and other government sectors to comply with Philippine laws.

Malaya denounced Facebook for eventually removing the illegal e-sabong activity on its page only after being exposed by him for their "inaction and neglect" to the public.

“It appears to have dragged its feet on stopping illegal and harmful activities in its social media platform. In the race for profits, they should never put growth above and before the safety of its users,’’ Malaya insisted.

Malaya noted that the Philippines is currently considered the social media capital of the world by amount of use with 80 million people using social media on average about four hours a day.

“Our country is one of Facebook’s biggest markets, accounting for 93 percent of the country’s social media market share. Since it dominates the PH (Philippine) market, it generates considerable profits especially in the last national and local elections,’’ he added.

However, Malaya stressed that Facebook and other technology companies have to be responsible and accountable in stopping illegal activities like e-sabong and child abuse – especially on live streaming and video call platforms.

He pointed out that up to the present online predators increasingly use live-stream because most tech companies have not done enough to detect or stop this type of abuse.

As a business entity operating in the Philippines, Malaya stood firm that Facebook should never allow itself to be a venue or a tool for illegal activity.

The DILG spokesperson also urged Congress "to follow the lead of other countries and pass legislation to regulate social media."

Malaya asserted that Facebook must be held liable for any illegal content on their sites and must be made to account on how it protects its user’s privacy and how it handles and safeguards user’s data.

“Facebook must have the duty to take care of their users, including protecting them from illegal and harmful content, Malaya contended.

He pressed local authorities to be vigilant in enforcing "our laws without fear or favor even if it involves a social media giant.’’

“We must build a safe and healthy online environment removing content that is illegal and harmful to the general public,’’ Malaya pointed out.