AFP cautions Facebook over accounts removal policy

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 25 2020 12:50 PM

MANILA— The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Friday cautioned social media giant Facebook against the removal of accounts without careful scrutiny after some that were recently taken down were found to have "links" to soldiers.

Philippine military spokesperson Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo issued the reminder as he claimed that one of the accounts that were removed by Facebook was an advocacy group of parents whose children were recruited by communist-terrorists.

The group of parents supposedly asked help from the military to promote their advocacy through Capt. Alexander Cabales, which led to the formation of the "Hands Off Our Children" page, Arevalo said.

The page, according to Arevalo, was taken down "quite maliciously" even if there was no illegal content in it. Arevalo had previously said that they were informed by Facebook that its policy on the removal of accounts and pages is based on behavior and not on the content of the pages.

"Baka pwede nila (Facebook) tingnan mabuti itong pangyayaring ito dahil baka 'di nila nababatid, sa pagte-take down nila ng accounts na hindi man lang nila binisita ang nilalaman, eh nagagamit na sila ng mga kalaban ng estado, mga banta sa ating seguridad, at nagiging partisan nila," Arevalo said in a virtual press briefing.

(Maybe they can check this incident because they might be unaware that, when they take down accounts without checking the content, they are being used by enemies of the state, threats to our security, and our becoming partisan.)

"Sa pag-takedown nito parang napaburan pa itong pagre-recruit ng communist-terrorist groups," he added.

(With the takedown, it seems that the recruitment of communist-terrorist groups were favored.)

BLANKET TAKEDOWN?

Fifty-seven Facebook accounts, 31 pages and 20 Instagram accounts, which constituted one network operating in the Philippines, were taken down, Facebook's Head of Security Policy Nathaniel Gleicher told reporters earlier this week.

"We are attributing this network to the Philippine military and Philippine police. In particular, we found links behind this network that connected to both these organizations and individuals associated with these organizations," Gleicher said.

Following the takedown, Arevalo said the Philippine military is appealing to Facebook to release details of the accounts that were removed even as he insisted that all official social media accounts of the AFP remain up and running.

"Gusto natin malaman ano-ano ang mga accounts na ito, ilan dito ang may kaugnayan sa AFP upang ating makita, upang sa ganun matanggal 'yung haka-haka sa isipan ng iba na ang AFP is engaged in 
fake news or using fake accounts," he said.

(We want to know what these accounts are, how many are linked to the AFP so we can erase doubts that the AFP is engaged in fake news or using fake accounts.)

Arevalo also assured the public that the military shares the same advocacies as Facebook such as campaigns against drug trafficking, child exploitation, and terrorism.

"Magkalinya po ang adbokasiya at paninindigan ng Facebook at ating AFP," Arevalo said. 

(Facebook's and the AFP's advocacies are aligned.)