THE New York Times published on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, a lengthy article written by Jason Gutierrez and Paul Mozur entitled “Duterte Lashes Out at Facebook After It Takes Down Fake Accounts.” In an address on Sept. 28, President Rodrigo Duterte cited Facebook of being biased against his policies and of siding with the leftists. He said: “We allow you to operate here hoping that 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?”
You don’t take Duterte’s words lightly. He has made good on a number of his threats: imprisoned Sen. Leila de Lima; filed various charges against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa; and closed ABS-CBN. So, if Facebook does not heed Duterte, expect this to disappear in Philippine jurisdiction. Let us take a look back. Duterte was catapulted to the presidency partly through social networks like Facebook that were flooded with fake news against his major opponent for the presidency, Mar Roxas, while at the same time promoting his “achievements” as mayor of Davao City.
At that time, Facebook and the like had no effective filtering device to determine false from truth. Sinister forces took advantage of the naivety of Facebook whose original objective was “To give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” For instance, the Internet Research Agency, based in Saint Petersburg, Russia, is said to have bombarded Facebook with thousands of fake accounts that supported Donald Trump and smeared Hillary Clinton leading to the US presidential election. Terrorist groups such as Al- Qaeda have used social media to espouse their causes. The murderer that killed 51 people and injured 40 in the Christchurch mosque attacks in New Zealand even used Facebook Live as he pursued his bloody deed.
Thus, Facebook has put in place increased checks on postings made online by messengers of falsehood, violence and evil. There are still many who are able to circumvent the system, but the volume of trash has considerably been reduced. On a personal note, I am thankful for Facebook for allowing me to continue with my passion for music through Facebook groups I’ve created. For six months since March, I did GigAlive on FBLive every Friday night to share music and positive vibes to those who cared to listen in this time of the pandemic.
Back to Duterte. Do you know that Nic Gabunada, the social media manager of the President’s 2016 campaign, was responsible for 200 accounts that Facebook suspended in March this year for “coordinated inauthentic activity?” I guess, the President has not forgotten. Facebook should, therefore, take notice.