MANILA -- Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa on Saturday questioned Facebook’s policy removing accounts and pages with “inauthentic, coordinated” behavior, saying if that were the case anti-government accounts must be removed, too.
If the social-media site were concerned with online behavior, Dela Rosa said in a radio interview that it was unfair that only those related to some members of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines were removed, and none from terrorists and rebels.
“Are you sure hindi ito mga fake accounts? Bakit hindi nila ito tine-take down? . . . Bakit, maganda ba ang behavior ng mga pro-communist na accounts? Very clear na tinatarget nila ang pro-government accounts,” Dela Rosa, a former police chief, said on radio DWIZ.
(Are you sure the anti-government accounts are not fake accounts? Why didn’t Facebook remove the pages? Is the behavior of pro-communist accounts better? This shows that the social media site is only targeting accounts that are siding with the government.)
He thus accused Facebook of being anti-government.
“Magpakatotoo tayo. Sa ginawa nilang ganun that's very clear. Bakit hindi nila tinake-down ang mga accounts ng New People’s Army? Ng mga kaliwa?”
(Let's be real. It’s clear Facebook is anti-government, because of its decision. Why didn’t they take down the pages of the New People’s Army? Leftists?)
Dela Rosa said that if anti-government voices are heard only on Facebook that could be considered a national security threat.
“They should know na gusto nating protektahan ang constitutionally mandated na freedom of speech ng mga Pilipino at ang national security. Ibig sabihin mamamayagpag ang mga mga kaliwa diyan, mga terorista, dahil yung mga advocacy gtroups laban sa kanila ay pina-take down na,” he added.
(We just want to protect every Filipino’s constitutionally mandated freedom of speech and our national security. To remove the accounts would mean that leftist groups would dominate the conversation on social media, because government advocacy groups were removed.)
Dela Rosa on Wednesday filed Senate Resolution No. 531 asking for a Senate inquiry on the social media giant’s supposed “censorship” after it shut down 57 Facebook accounts, 31 pages and 20 Instagram accounts, almost all of which side with the administration.
The social media giant earlier said it removed 2 networks on its platform for "coordinated inauthentic behavior" or manipulation campaigns in the Philippines.
War on cyberspace?
According to Dela Rosa, this is a war between the government and those attempting to discredit it in the realm of cyberspace.
“Kung i-allow niyo sila gumamit ng Facebook, i-allow niyo din ang pro-government na advocacy groups na gumamit ng Facebook. Huwag niyo i-take down. Hayaan nila ang magkabilang panig,” he said.
(Pro-government and anti-government accounts should be allowed to engage on the social media platform. Both sides should be heard. )
He said the Senate inquiry wanted to know why the accounts were removed and whether the social media platform should be regulated. He clarified, meanwhile, that he was not advocating for its shutdown.
“Kung may batas silang ginawa, i-implement nila ng patas, hindi yung sa isang side lang dahil hindi nagtungtong sa kanilang sariling pananaw nila, iyon na ang kanilang tatanggalin? Mali iyon. Kaya kinukuwestiyon natin dahil lumalabag ito sa ating Constitution,” he said.
(They should implement their rules and regulations fairly. Just because the accounts didn’t align with their views they would remove it already? That’s wrong. That’s the reason we’re questioning it, because we think it violated our Constitution.)
President Rodrigo Duterte admonished Facebook for removing the Philippine military's "advocacy" accounts.
Facebook has yet to comment on Duterte's tirades, including a seeming threat against its operations in the Philippines.