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Hundreds of ‘malicious’ Facebook accounts in Philippines taken down

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Hundreds of âmaliciousâ Facebook accounts in Philippines taken down
In this file photo taken on November 19, 2021 a picture shows the US online social media and social networking service Facebook's logo on a smartphone screen.
AFP / Kirill Kudryavtsev

MANILA, Philippines — Facebook’s parent company Meta announced Thursday that it has taken down hundreds of accounts from the Philippines that were engaged in “malicious activities” on the social media platform ahead of the May elections.

Among those removed from Facebook was a network of pages, groups and accounts maintained by the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Along with this, Meta said it has also removed from Facebook a network of over 400 accounts, pages and groups that worked to systematically violate the social media platform’s community standards and evade enforcement.

The company said people behind this network claimed to be hacktivists who amplified content about distributed denial of service attacks, account recovery, defacing and compromising of primarily websites of news outlets in the Philippines.

Meta also flagged operations of fake accounts from other countries as the elections in the Philippines draw nearer.

It said it has removed several clusters of activity that changed the focus of their pages and groups to the elections, like a page that shared dance videos that renamed itself to become “Bongbong Marcos news.” Marcos is running for president in the polls and has been identified by independent fact-checkers as the biggest beneficiary of online disinformation.

Activities from Vietnam, Thailand and the US were also removed, Meta said, as these pretended to be coming from Filipinos “in an apparent attempt to monetize people’s attention on the election.”

One such example is a cluster of pages operated by spammers in Vietnam who used software to make it appear that they are based in the Philippines, posed as supporters of political campaigns or local news outlets, and used names like Philippines Trending News, Duterte Live, Related to Francis Leo Marcos and Pinas News.

“They claimed to share live footage while purporting to be local news sources on the ground in an attempt to drive people to their clickbait websites filled with ads,” Meta said.

Meta also said it has taken down about a dozen clusters of activity focused on fake engagement, including a social media management agency that used a network of over 700 accounts to post and share political and entertainment content.

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