Duterte warns Facebook over pages taken down for 'coordinated inauthentic behavior'


MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte slammed social media network Facebook for taking down social media pages linked to security forces and even threatened to stop the operations of the social media giant in the country. 

“Facebook, listen to me. We allow you to operate here hoping you could help us also. Now if the government cannot espouse or advocate something which is for the good of the people then what is your purpose here in my country?” Duterte said in a taped speech late Monday.

Last week, Facebook took down over a hundred accounts and pages with links to the Philippine military and police for “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

The social media’s community standards define “inauthentic behavior” as using Facebook or Instagram assets to “mislead people or Facebook” on their identity, purpose or origin, or on the popularity of a page or post, or "to evade enforcement under our community standards."

Link to military, police

Facebook found that a network operating in the Philippines "consisted of several clusters of connected activity that relied on fake accounts to evade enforcement, post content, comment and manage pages." 

The social media company said the network posted in both English and Filipino about local news on domestic politics, military activities against terrorism, the anti-terrorism law, criticism of communism, youth activists and opposition, Communist Party of the Philippines and its military wing the New People’s Army, and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

It also took down a Chinese network, which posted content supportive of Duterte and his the potential run of her daughter, Sara, in the 2022 elections, praise and criticism of China, and criticism of Rappler.

'Hands Off Our Children' page

Among the pages that were closed by Facebook was the Hands Off Our Childreen (HOOC), which was being managed by Philippine Army Capt. Alexandre Cabales. The military earlier asked the social media company to restore HOOC, which it said was a “legitimate advocacy page.”

“What would be the point of allowing you to continue if you can’t help us? We are not advocating mass destruction, we are not advocating massacre. It’s a fight of ideas,” Duterte said.

The chief executive said Facebook cannot “bar or prevent” him from “espousing the objectives of the government.”

“So kung di tayo magkaintindihan dyan, mag-usap tayo. Is there a life after Facebook? I don’t know pero mag-uusap tayo,” he said.

In a radio interview Sunday, Col. Ramon Zagala, spokesperson of the Philippine Army, said the institution is utilizing social media to “show the public peaceful ways of winning the insurgency.” While it is up to active personnel on how they will use Facebook, they must comply with the Army’s social media guidelines.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Monday that supporters of the administration will find another medium after Facebook took down pages linked to the military and police.

Last year, Facebook also removed profiles and pages that were associated with Nic Gabunada, the man behind Duterte’s social media campaign, also for “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

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