'Himas rehas ka ngayon': PUP students get threats from Facebook accounts using their names

Rowegie Abanto, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 08 2020 08:46 AM | Updated as of Jun 08 2020 10:21 AM

MANILA — At least 2 Polytechnic University of the Philippines students reported Sunday that they received threats from accounts using their names on Facebook.

Many Facebook users have sought help from their friends on the platform to report dummy accounts using their names. This came after several people were detained in Manila and Cebu for protesting the anti-terrorism bill.

 
The Communicator, a student publication of the PUP - College of Communication, reported that a student in the college received a threat, which reads: "Ano sabi mo dati? Oust Duterte? Junk Terror Bill? Online protest ka pa ah himas rehas ka ngayon."

"What did you say before? Oust Duterte? Junk Terror Bill? You dare mount an online protest, you'll caress bars now."

 

“Mae,” not her real name, told ABS-CBN News that she received a message — which The Communicator reported — from a dummy account bearing her name at around 3:37 p.m. on Sunday and immediately reported it. 

She later found out that the account was deactivated and the message deleted.

Mae said she signed an online petition to scrap the controversial anti-terrorism bill and used political hashtags on her social media accounts like #JunkTerrorBill, #JunkTerrorBillNow, #MassTestingNowPH, and #OustDuterte.

“Honestly, natawa ako sa kung gaano ka-low itong atake ng mga trolls sa mga kritiko ng gobyerno," she said. 

(I was amused at how low the troll attacks against government critics have gotten.) 

"At the same time, may kaonting takot din para sa privacy ko pati ng mga tao sa paligid ko, gayon din po sa mga kaibigan at kakilala kong nagkaroon din ng mga fake accounts sa Facebook." 

(There's a bit of fear for my privacy and that of the people around me, my friends and acquaintances who were also the victims of fake Facebook accounts.) 

Meanwhile, PUP’s official paper The Catalyst also reported a similar threat.

In the publication’s post containing screenshots of messages from supposed fake accounts, it can be read that the student was red-tagged and called a “terrorist.” 

 

"Kahit ano gawin niyo lahat di kami matatalo mga wala kayong kwenta," one of the messages declared. "Hintayin niyo kame sa June 12."

(Whatever you do, we won't be defeated, you're useless. Wait for us on June 12.)

June 12 marks Independence Day, a national holiday. 

Critics and human rights advocates have said that the anti-terrorism bill approved by Congress can be abused to clamp down on dissent and arbitrarily arrest anti-government protesters.

The Department of Justice has ordered an investigation into the surge of suspicious accounts on the social media giant.

Responding to the rise of fake accounts on the social media site, Facebook said that they are now investigating "reports of suspicious activity on our platform and taking action on any accounts that we find to be in violation of our policies."

"We encourage people to continue reporting any accounts they believe may be inauthentic," it added.

Facebook had said its artificial intelligence (AI) detects most fake accounts and disables them before they can post on the platform.

— With a report from Agence France-Presse