MANILA — A Facebook glitch "in all probability" could have caused a recent deluge of blank and duplicate accounts bearing the names of university students and members of the academe, the National Bureau of Investigation said Monday.
The social media giant prevents the multiple creation of the same account within a short period of time, said NBI Cybercrime Division chief Victor Lorenzo.
"Ang tinitingnan pa lang namin ngayon, in all probability, glitch lang ito dahil napakahirap mag-create ng account ngayon sa Facebook, especially kapag madami kang kini-create na account under one ID, one cellphone number, one location," he told TeleRadyo.
(We are looking at, in all probability, that this is just a glitch because it's very difficult to create an account on Facebook, especially if there will be numerous accounts under one ID, one cellphone number, one location.)
The US, where Facebook is based, is grappling with widespread protests against racism and police brutality, which could have affected the social media site, he speculated.
"Machine lang naman iyon. Hindi impossible na mangyari na magkaroon ng glitch," he added.
(It's just a machine. It's not impossible that there is a glitch.)
The NBI will also investigate whether the accounts were created deliberately, the incident's timeline, and whether it was targeting only students, Lorenzo said.
The agency is coordinating with other law agencies and Facebook, he said.
"Marami kaming mga tanong pa on the technical side," he said.
(We still have questions on the technical side.)
Online identity theft is punishable by 6 to 12 years in prison under the Anti-Cybercrime Prevention Act, said Lorenzo.
He urged the public to be wary of Facebook messages that may contain internet links that can steal their log-in details.
Social media users should also avoid posting online their personal details, IDs and plane tickets with bar codes, he said.
Victims of copycat accounts can report these to Facebook and the NBI, he said.
Many of the Facebook accounts reported by university students surfaced following protests against an anti-terror bill pushed by President Rodrigo Duterte and which critics said could lead to human rights abuses.
Facebok invests millions of dollars and deploys sophisticated technology to proactively identify and remove fake accounts, it said in a statement on Sunday.
It estimates that only 5 percent of its worldwide monthly active users are fake.