Manila Standard : Senate asks FB why gov’t, media posts flagged

27 April 2022

By Macon Ramos-AranetaandRey E. Requejo | Manila Standard

The head of the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., on Tuesday asked Facebook Philippines for an explanation regarding the series of flagging and removal of posts and shared stories by government officials and state media agencies.

This developed as the Facebook account of lawyer Vic Rodriguez, spokesperson of presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., was suspended Tuesday, then later restored, for allegedly violating community standards.

“FB/Meta suspended my account because I am for Bongbong Marcos. This is censorship of the highest degree and interference on a sovereign act,” Rodriguez said.

“I will not appeal for I have not violated anything. My duty is to the Filipino people and not to FB/Meta. I will continue communicating with the many other forms of media available that are free from any filter, censorship, or manipulation from foreign platform providers,” he added.

Meta, for its part, said the Facebook account of Rodriguez has already been restored after it was incorrectly flagged as an impostor account.

“Earlier today, the account was mistakenly restricted for reasons unrelated to any posted content. The account has since been restored,” Meta said in a statement.

In Revilla’s letter to John Rubio, country director of Facebook Philippines, he said while the Senate recognizes Meta’s efforts against disinformation, cyberbullying, hate speech, terrorism, and other problems encountered in social media platforms, it would welcome information and an explanation from the social media giant.

“I join the concern of the government agencies and mass media organizations about the effects of the abovementioned incidents in the performance of official functions and their implications in national security, sovereignty, and fundamental freedoms,” Revilla said.

Some posts of the Philippine News Agency were also taken down by Facebook but were later restored.

Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan president and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said the Facebook incidents are part of efforts to discredit the accomplishments of the Duterte administration and maliciously influence voters’ decisions ahead of the May 9 polls.

A post of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. urging Filipinos to unite against communist insurgency was similarly flagged, prompting Department of the Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya to denounce Facebook.

“This move of FB is alarming, if not dangerous, as it has appointed itself as an omnipotent force that can censure at their discretion—based on standards that they themselves created—the legitimate posts of highly respected officials of the country,” Malaya said in a statement.