DOJ orders probe into surge of fake social media accounts after anti-terror bill protests


Posted at Jun 07 2020 04:40 PM

DOJ orders probe into surge of fake social media accounts after anti-terror bill protests 1
Protesters picket against the Anti-Terror Bill at the UP Diliman in Quezon City on June 4, 2020, amid the general community quarantine, where mass gatherings remain prohibited. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Department of Justice said Sunday it would order an investigation into the creation of suspected fake social media accounts following protests against the country's anti-terror bill.

"This gives me cause for worry. We don't need false information at a time when we're dealing with a serious public health crisis," Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.

Several students and alumni, including some who participated in Friday's protests against the controversial measure, reported dummy accounts with their name.

The suspected fake social media accounts were first reported in UP Cebu, where 7 protesters and a bystander were arrested last Friday, according to the University of the Philippines' Office of the Student Regent.

Those who are "critical of the government are the usual targets," said the UP College of Mass Communication, which said that "someone is stealing the identities of our faculty, students and alumni."

Aside from the UP system, the De La Salle University and Polytechnic University of the Philippines' student publication also reported about dubious duplicate accounts of their students.

National Privacy Commissioner Raymund Liboro said his office is monitoring the reports conveyed by different sectors, mostly coming from academic institutions.

"We immediately brought this to the attention of Facebook. According to Ms. Clare Amador, Facebook Representative in the Philippines, they are already investigating this particular matter as well as other information on unauthorized FB accounts," Liboro said in a statement.

It advised everyone to report alleged impostor accounts to Facebook.

The anti-terror bill awaits President Rodrigo Duterte's signature before it can be enacted into a law. Some groups have raised concern over select provisions in the bill that, according to them, are prone to abuse by authorities.