Home Editors' Picks Meta suspends, restores account of Marcos staff
Meta suspends, restores account of Marcos staff
Meta Platforms, Inc., which operates Facebook, suspended the account of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr.’s spokesman on Monday, weeks after the social media giant launched a crackdown on hate speech and misinformation in the Philippines.
The social media platform restored it a day later after it was incorrectly flagged as an impostor account, according to him.
“FB/Meta suspended my account because I am for Bongbong Marcos,” lawyer Victor D. Rodriguez said in a Viber message, before his account was restored. “This is censorship of the highest degree and interference on a sovereign act.”
Facebook said the lawyer had violated its community standards, according to a screenshot sent by Mr. Rodriguez.
Earlier this month, Meta suspended a network of more than 400 accounts, pages and groups in the Philippines as the country prepares for a presidential election that critics say has been undermined by disinformation campaigns.
Most of the accounts were supporting President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s administration and the presidential candidacy of the son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos.
Last year, Meta shut down 155 accounts, 11 pages, nine groups and six Instagram accounts that originated from China with posts supporting the leadership of Mr. Duterte.
The tough-talking leader has vetoed a bill that would mandate the registration of all social media accounts and subscriber identity module (SIM) cards in the Philippines.
Opponents have said the bill could be used to undermine the privacy and basic liberties of Filipinos, who are among the most gullible to fake news according to a study conducted by global cyber-security firm Kaspersky.
Most instances of disinformation in social media platforms are directed against Mr. Marcos’ main rival, Vice-President Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo, based on data gathered by a fact-checking platform initiated by the University of the Philippines (UP) and other academic institutions with the help of local media.
The fact-checking platform said there had been fake endorsements from various sectors of Mr. Marcos for president, including supposed celebrities and even heads of state. It said historical inaccuracies in connection with his father have also resurfaced.
Ms. Robredo on Monday night said brushing off online attacks against her during her vice-presidency was a “big mistake.”
“Fake news and disinformation against the Robredo campaign have intensified,” Maria Ela L. Atienza, a political science professor at UP, said in a Viber message.
“More fake news and spliced videos should be expected as the opposition tandem gains more momentum,” Jean Encinas-Franco, who also teaches political science at UP, said in a Facebook Messenger chat.
Meanwhile, Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr. asked Meta to explain the alleged flagging and removal of posts and shared stories of some government officials and state media.
The lawmaker, who heads the Senate mass media committee, said he recognizes Facebook’s efforts against disinformation, cyber-bullying, hate speech and extremism on social media.
“I join the concern of the government agencies about the effects of the abovementioned incidents in the performance of official functions and their implications on national security, sovereignty and fundamental freedoms,” he said in a letter to John Rubio, director of Facebook Philippines.
“I appreciate any information and explanation that your office may extend on this matter,” said Mr. Revilla, who is backing Mr. Marcos for president. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza