Duterte lashes out against Facebook

President Rodrigo Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on Monday, September 28. | Malacañang photo by Robinson Niñal

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte questioned the purpose of Facebook in the country after the social media platform took down “fake” accounts and pages with ties to the police and military units in the country.

“Facebook, listen to me. We allow you to operate here hoping that you could help us also. Now if government cannot espouse or advocate something which is for the good of the people, then what is your purpose here in my country?” he said in his televised public address on Monday, Sept. 28.

On September 22, Facebook took down a total of 57 accounts, 31 pages, and 20 Instagram accounts engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior (CIB).”

According to Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s cybersecurity policy chief, the accounts posted primarily in Filipino and English about local news and events, including domestic politics, the military’s activity against terrorism, the draft of the pending anti-terrorism bill, criticism of communism, youth activists and the opposition, criticism of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its military wing the New People’s Army, and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

Duerte accused Facebook of believing the leftists that are critical of his administration.
“Tapos yung Left ini-encourage kayo (Then the Left are encouraging you), then you believe in the Left to the point of almost making a sweeping move,” he said.

“If you cannot reconcile the idea of what your purpose is, or was, then we have to talk. I don’t know what I will do but we have to talk,” he added.

The chief also stressed that Facebook cannot lay down a policy for his government.
“You cannot lay down a policy for my government. I allow you to operate here. You cannot bar or prevent me from espousing the objectives of government,” Duterte said.

He added, “If you are promoting the cause of the rebellion, which is already, or which was already here before you came and so many thousands of my soldiers and civilians dying, then, if you cannot reconcile the idea of what your purpose is, or was, then we have to talk.”

House to probe Facebook takedown of govt accounts

The House of Representatives, for its part, is set to conduct an investigation over Facebook’s action to take down the accounts linked to Philippine military.

“Upon the passage of the 2021 Budget in the House of Representatives, rest assured that we will initiate the appropriate proceedings in aid of legislation to truly determine if the reported actions of Facebook are detrimental to the Constitutional freedom of expression guaranteed to all Filipinos, regardless of political color, rich or poor, left or right,” Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said on Tuesday, Sept. 29.

Cayetano also urged Facebook to reflect on its actions, pointing out that taking down the accounts contradicted the social media giant’s purpose.

“We call on Facebook Philippines to take this time to introspect and reflect on the soundness of its actions that tend to undermine the democratic principles upon which its phenomenal success is based,” he said.

“Favoring one sector or ideology — especially one that has been tagged by the international community as a terrorist organization — directly contradicts Facebook’s core purpose of connecting all people globally in a free, open, and neutral marketplace of ideas,” he added.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at ritchel.mendiola@asianjournalinc.com.

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