PH privacy body calls out Facebook for account purge, demands explanation

Photo: Brett Jordan/Unsplash
Photo: Brett Jordan/Unsplash

The National Privacy Commission (NPC) said today that it would seek an explanation from social media behemoth Facebook over its decision to remove accounts that were allegedly connected to the Philippine military, police, and an unknown Chinese entity.

NPC Commissioner Raymund Liboro told ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo that they were particularly concerned over how Facebook protects the data of its Filipino users.

Read: Facebook takes down 200 accounts linked to China, PH police for ‘inauthentic behavior’

“We will encourage them and demand to know from them about the appropriate security measures that they have undertaken. This is all based on the Data Privacy Act,” he said in English and Filipino.

“The question is, are they doing enough [to protect the privacy of users]? Is Facebook doing enough to stop these [kinds of activities] because this would lead to questions of intervention,” he added.

Facebook announced yesterday that it took down at least 200 accounts, some of which originated in the Philippines while the others were traced back to Fujian province. The Chinese accounts shared content about a variety of topics, including the potential 2022 presidential run of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, President Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter. The Philippine accounts, which were allegedly managed by the country’s military and police, were involved in red-tagging, or accusing individuals of being supportive of the Communist party.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines said that none of their social media accounts have been taken down during Facebook’s purge.

Meanwhile, Liboro said that Facebook’s massive takedown may be somewhat related to an incident in June when hundreds of Filipinos discovered that there were fake dummy accounts bearing their names.

Read: ‘Cause for worry’: Justice Department to probe surge of dummy Facebook accounts

“Let’s see how they can protect citizens in their platform. That’s what we want to know. In June, there was a privacy panic when [several fake] accounts appeared. We want to look into that and we have learned more about it, then this [purge] happened,” he said.

“We want to know how the two are related. We want to know if there’s a connection because what they did yesterday raises some concern,” he said.

In March last year, Facebook took down at least 200 pages and groups connected with Nic Gabunada, Duterte’s former social media campaign manager. The accounts allegedly engaged in “coordinated, inauthentic behavior” by spreading news related to the 2019 senatorial elections.



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