AFP says Facebook should target terror accounts instead of military-backed groups


Posted at Oct 13 2020 06:07 PM

MANILA— Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Gilbert Gapay said Tuesday that instead of zeroing in on accounts supporting the military, social media giant Facebook should focus on tracking down accounts of "terrorists" and other groups promoting hate and violence.

Gapay questioned Facebook for taking down the account of "Hands Off Our Children (HOOC)," a group of parents whose children have been recruited by the communist New People’s Army. The page was taken down a few weeks ago.

Gapay said the HOOC has a “very good” advocacy since it aims to prevent the NPA from recruiting students.

“Their HOOC (members) children are still out there, they want their children back… They don’t want other parents to suffer the same fate, that’s why they formed this advocacy,” said Gapay in a forum organized by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines.

“There are some sites and pages being used by the terrorists, so that should be our focus. But surprisingly it was the good ones that were taken down because of this coordinate inauthentic behavior.”

Facebook recently took down several accounts and pages linked to the military for “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” 

Among those taken down was the HOOC and the personal account of Army Capt. Alexandre Cabales, chief of the Social Media Center of the Army’s Civil Military Operations Regiment.

Cabales was the administrator of the HOOC. 

The military said Cabales accepted the HOOC’s invitation to be administrator of the page because he was supportive of the group’s cause.

“They (Facebook) are unfair to us in taking down those sites because there are many other sites that are really espousing hate, violence, terrorism that should have been taken down in the first place,” said Gapay.

Gapay said the social media giant should be “impartial and unbiased” and should look into the content of accounts before they are shut down. He added that “spot checkers” should also be checked for bias.

The military already had 3 meetings with Facebook officials. The AFP has requested the platform to restore these accounts as soon as possible.

“They are cooperative in this area and hopefully we could gain common grounds on this and again continue on as partners, as purveyors of truth and factual information for the general welfare of the (public),” he said.