What to do if you or a friend has been 'cloned' on Facebook
"Anonymous digital influencers" — usually aspirational middle-class digital workers moonlighting as operators of anonymous accounts that command 50,000 or more followers on Twitter and Facebook, according to a report from NATO StratCom.
AFP, File

What to do if you or a friend has been 'cloned' on Facebook

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - June 7, 2020 - 2:34pm

MANILA, Philippines — Following a protest against the anti-terror bill held at the Cebu campus of the University of the Philippines, users on social media have reported finding cloned duplicates of themselves—blank accounts holding the same or similar names—on Facebook. 

UP Tug-ani, UP Cebu's official student publication, first reported duplicate accounts of the activists arrested at the peaceful protest. Duplicate accounts have since been reported in Manila and other areas. The duplicate accounts are not just of UP students, either, and some journalists — at least two from Philstar.com have found duplicate accounts — have found their potentially malicious namesakes on the popular social media platform.

In a statement, the UP Office of the Student Regent acknowledged the many reports and urged its students to remain informed and vigilant. Facebook and the National Privacy Commission have yet to respond to requests for comment as of this post.

"We express our utmost alarm since these accounts are suspected to cause harm or spread false information. It would be best if we all stay informed and vigilant. We are hoping that this is a glitch in the system only and can be resolved as soon as possible. However, let it be clear that we will not tolerate any misleading content posted on any account that will endanger our students," it said.

Here's what to do if you find yourself in the same position. 

According to Facebook's existing rules, accounts falsely pretending to be someone they are not may be reported. 

  1. On the accounts of suspected fakes, tap the icon with three dots next to the "Message" and "Add Friend" options under the Cover Photo
  2. Select the "Find Support or Report Profile" option which opens a pop-up menu with on-screen instructions
  3. From there, you may tag the profile as one "Pretending to be Someone" or one being a "Fake Account" 
  4. Click "Next" and select "Done" in the following window. 

The UP Office of the Student regent also took care to warn students to be judicious in their reporting, as legitimate accounts of people with the same name could also accidentally be taken down in the process. 

Digital disinformation

Other users on social media have linked the accounts to pro-administration troll farms. 

This, after some duplicate accounts reportedly went as far as sending death threats to their namesakes.

RELATED: Anti-communist task force, PCOO spread false claims on ABS-CBN franchise | Anti-communist gov't task force posts false quote of Anakbayan spokesperson

A separate study published by New Mandala entitled "Tracking Digital Disinformation in the 2019 Philippine Midterm Election" observed what they described as "the emergence of hyper-partisan platforms that exploit citizens’ mistrust against the political establishment in exchange for clicks." 

"Also, just today, it was discovered that the information system of the UPC has been deliberately breached and compromised by unidentified hackers. Perhaps more is yet to come," UP Tug-ani said in a separate statement. 

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