DILG hits Meta for delayed action on e-sabong pages

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
DILG hits Meta for delayed action on e-sabong pages
Stock image of a Facebook mobile app.

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government "acknowledged" Friday Facebook’s takedown of illegal e-sabong pages and accounts but hit the social networking site's parent company for its late reaction to its repeated requests. 

"Its much-delayed response to the request of Philippine authorities is emblematic of the culture that has embraced Meta Platforms, Inc. Despite official requests and public appeals made by this Department and other government agencies, they ignored our requests for them to comply with Philippine laws and only acted belatedly when we exposed their inaction and neglect to the public," DILG spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said in a statement sent to reporters Friday. 

"It appears to have dragged its feet on stopping illegal and harmful activities in its social media platform. In the race for profits, they should never put growth above and before the safety of its users."

The DILG in its statement also called on Congress to pass legislation to regulate social media, saying online platforms such as Facebook must be held liable for illegal content on their sites.

The Philippines is currently considered the social media capital of the world by amount of use with 80 million people using social media on an average of four hours a day.

"Our country is one of Facebook’s biggest markets, accounting for 93% of the country’s social media market share. Since it dominates the PH market, it generates considerable profits especially in the last national and local elections," Malaya said. 

"Facebook and other technology companies have to be made responsible and accountable for stopping illegal activities – like e-sabong and child abuse – especially on live streaming and video call platforms. Up to now, online predators increasingly use live-stream because most tech companies have not done enough to detect or stop this type of abuse. As a business entity operating in the Philippines, Facebook should never allow itself to be a venue or a tool for illegal activity. Despite being banned, it inexplicably allowed e-sabong in its platform."

Malaya said that Facebook "must be made to account for how it protect its user’s privacy and how it handles and safeguards user’s data."

"The Philippines must be vigilant in enforcing our laws without fear or favor even if it involves a social media giant. We must build a safe and healthy online environment removing content that is illegal and harmful to the general public," he said. 

However, it was also Malaya who pushed back against Facebook for taking down red-tagging content from state media earlier this year. He made no mention of the threats to personal safety that the practice can pose. 

Red-tagging is defined by Philippine jurisprudence as “the act of labelling, branding, naming and accusing individuals and/or organizations of being left-leaning, subversives, communists or terrorists (used as) a strategy... by State agents, particularly law enforcement agencies and the military, against those perceived to be ‘threats’ or ‘enemies of the State.’”

The Commission on Human Rights has warned that the practice of red-tagging, which has increased in recent years, "violates the constitutional guarantee of presumption of innocence and may have serious implications on the security and movement of individuals and groups involved."

Philstar.com has sought Meta for comment. This story will be updated with their response. 



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