By Rigoberto Tiglao | The Manila Times
IN a desperate move to reverse Ferdinand ("Bongbong") Marcos, Jr.'s inexorable run to win the presidency, the camp of Leonora Robredo, second placer in the polls (third in some surveys), is attempting to launch this February a campaign to clamp down on anti-Robredo, pro-Marcos posts in social media, mainly in Facebook and Twitter, the two most popular platforms in the country.
It was Senate candidate Larry Gadon who disclosed last week in his Viber account: "Leni Robredo personally met with Chris Kuzhuppily, Facebook Philippine public policy manager; Roy Tan, politics and government outreach manager for Asia Pacific; and Kylie Mooney, government, politics and advocacy partner manager, regarding the avalanche of support of millions of FB users behind Bongbong Marcos."
Gadon quoted a source in Robredo's camp as reporting: "They plan to suspend massive BBM supporters' accounts one week before campaign period starts. A middle man helping Leni's team reach FB is closely connected with the US."
These reports jibe with a Robredo strategy paper titled "Il Figlio," which claimed that "her weak imagery was solidified by what they see in social media." The paper therefore claimed that the "battle is in social media — biggest sources of awareness and what shapes their perception towards different personalities are through social media." Indeed, social media has widely broadcast Robredo's gaffes in recent weeks and even her hilarious ads, even if these had already been taken down.
An indication of the Robredo strategy to assault in social media was Twitter's move last week to suspend more than 300 allegedly pro-Marcos accounts, which had been removed January 28 "for violating our platform manipulation and spam policy." Twitter said "it had reviewed the accounts and hashtags identified in a recent article by Philippine news site Rappler." The article was published only eight days earlier: Twitter apparently simply believed Rappler's accusations.
I tend to believe the report on the Robredo camp's plan to assault social media and rid it of pro-Marcos, anti-Robredo posts. Facebook Philippines' head of public policy Clare Amador was the Budget Secretary Florencio Abad's chief of staff, with the rank of undersecretary, for six years from June 2010 to June 2016. She was said to be the most trusted aide of Abad, the late President Aquino 3rd's brain trust. It was Amador, I was told, who arranged the meeting between Robredo and the three other officers of Facebook in the Philippines.
My own sources confirmed Gadon's report. One source also pointed out that the alleged denial by "Facebook" of Gadon's allegation — reported only in the pro-Robredo papers The Philippine Star and Philippine Daily Inquirer — was fake, done so carelessly that it was hilarious. The two papers' articles reported, "No one from Meta has recently met with the vice president or her team or made any agreement to remove political content."
The two newspapers claimed that the denial was made by an anonymous "Meta spokesperson in an email." That is absurd: editors know that a "spokesman" can be a spokesman only if he identifies himself and that he is speaking for an entity. Nowhere in the world is there "an anonymous spokesman."
The two papers also had not disclosed the email address of the alleged "spokesman" for other media men to verify as to his and the email's authenticity, nor a contact number to verify it. Even Communist Party fronts, such as the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, routinely include in their press releases a contact number to verify the authenticity of the statement and for the media to clarify whatever needs to be clarified upon reading these.
But "Meta," the seventh most valuable company in the world with an $840-billion capitalization, cannot even recruit somebody willing to be identified as its spokesperson.
Why didn't Clare Amador and the three other officers of the Facebook operations in the Philippines deny the report? Because they couldn't, because it was true.
The Philippine Star report was authored by one Xave Gregorio, whose beat is the Office of the Vice President. This guy, the Inquirer reporter who by-lined a similar article and the editor who cleared their stories for publication, should be fired for being so stupid.
Another flashing red light that the denial is fake, is that nowhere in the statement is there a reference to Meta Platforms Inc., its official name which the company would have used in an official statement. Instead, the spurious press release refers only to "Meta." Meta Platforms has become the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, among other tech companies.
So far, though, it hasn't changed the organizational structures of these subsidiaries. Which means that an issue faced by Facebook would have been publicly addressed by Facebook and not Meta, although information on the company and all its authentic press releases are posted in about.fb/com. https://about.fb.com. These Pinklawans, or Finks, still think we Filipinos are stupid, don't they?
I myself sensed that something was going on when, after 11 years of having a Facebook account, I was "restricted" for a period of time — i.e., barred from posting anything, not even commenting on Facebook — in late November and more recently last week. After more than a decade posting my views in FB, even very harsh ones against Benigno Aquino 3rd when he was in power, I got restricted only at this time — after posting critical views against Robredo and favorable ones for Marcos.
The latest post that got me restricted makes me think that Robredo's camp has devised a way of pinpointing FB users who have written against her candidacy and who have a sizable following. As shown in the screengrab accompanying this piece, FB claimed that I was restricted because of that post in which I commented that nuisance candidate Walden Bello shouldn't be ranting so much against martial law since he wasn't even here during the entire martial law period. (He was studying in the US and busy in leftist think-tanks and organizations.)
How could that comment have violated "community standards?"
Watch out, friends. Shout on other social media platforms whenever Facebook suppresses your voice.