The poll rivals of presidential candidate and survey frontrunner Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. are to blame for the suspension of the Facebook (FB) account of his spokesperson, lawyer Vic Rodriguez.
Marcos ally Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor offered this theory Wednesday, April 27, amid the final days of the campaign season when poll-related maneuverings are expected to be at their fiercest.
“Groups working for Marcos Jr.’s opponents instigated a barrage of bogus complaints against Rodriguez’s FB account, which was suspended because of the arbitrariness of the social media platform’s content moderators," Defensor claimed in a statement.
Rodriguez slammed the suspension of his account Tuesday, April 26, calling it "censorship of the highest degree and interference on a sovereign act".
Later that day, an FB spokesperson said Rodriguez’s account had been “incorrectly flagged as an imposter account".
“The (Rodriguez) account was restricted for reasons unrelated to any posted content. The account has since been restored,” the spokesperson said.
“FB’s admission that Rodriguez’s account was flagged by mistake has also betrayed the vulnerability of the social media platform’s moderators – many of whom are Filipinos – to undue influence by partisan political activities,” said Defensor, who is the survey frontrunner in the Quezon City mayoralty race.
“Considering that FB’s moderators are not even employees of the social media giant – but work for outsourcing companies contracted to perform the job – they may be susceptible to political manipulation one way or the other,” he pointed out.
FB’s moderators review posts on the platform, and negative feedback can result in account suspension.
Amid the political heat heading into the May 9 elections, Defensor urged FB “to exercise greater restraint” in disabling the accounts of individuals actively involved in the political campaign activities of candidates.
“Otherwise, a foreign entity like FB may be accused of meddling in our elections – a sovereign exercise – in favor of this or that candidate,” the former Palace chief-of-staff warned.
Defensor also said that the social media platform could be accused “of suppressing free speech, and of imposing its own political values on others".