Former Duterte social media man 'surprised' with Facebook takedown

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 29 2019 02:53 PM

MANILA – A public relations expert, whose pages were taken down by Facebook for supposed "inauthentic coordinated behavior” called the social media giant's move as "unfortunate" and surprising. 

Nic Gabunada, who has admitted to being behind the social media campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016, on Friday said it was “unfortunate” that Facebook associated his name with the 200 profiles and pages that were taken down due to misleading behavior and fake accounts.

As a communications person, his accounts were added, even without his approval, in pages and groups during and after the 2016 campaign, Gabunada told ABS-CBN News in a phone interview. 

“Before kasi Facebook automatically makes you part of the group without asking you. Now they have to give consent. My name is all over the place. This may be the reason why some pages, after they examined, nandoon ang pangalan ko,” Gabunada said.

Some of the pages mentioned were not even associated with him, Gabunada said. Gabunada's personal Facebook account was also taken down on Friday morning. 

“I was so surprised…I just thought this is all unfortunate na ilagay pangalan ko (for them to include my name),” he added.

A total of 200 pages allegedly associated with Gabunada were taken down Friday for "inauthentic coordinated behavior" and for using fake accounts.

Most of the pages share political-related contents, said Facebook’s head of Cyber-security Policy Nathaniel Gleicher.

But Gleicher clarified that contents “were not the basis” of the take down. It was the use of fake accounts meant to mislead the public about the origin of those contents, he said. 

Gabunada said he planned to appeal the measure taken by the internet bigwig.

Despite the massive purge, Gabunada said his communications and consulting business were unaffected.

"If they will have to take down my account its their prerogative, on the other hand they have to consider I'm not doing it for the sake if whatever it is that they're accusing me of," he said. 

"I'm just one of those that shares and invited to join certain groups," he added. 

Facebook said it has engaged an AI-based solution as well as teams of human experts to track and remove "bad actors" on the platform worldwide. 

Digital marketing group Twinmark Media and the pages associated with it were taken down by the social media platform in January this year for the same violation.