Philippine Police, Military Disown Fake Facebook Accounts

Ruben Fields
September 25, 2020

Facebook also removed 57 Facebook accounts, 31 Pages and 20 Instagram accounts for violating its policy against foreign or government interference which is coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign or government entity.

They used fake accounts in order to boost engagement and manage the network, which is against Facebook's rules.

Facebook security first detected the new activity and shared the information with US government officials. It said the people behind the network tried to hide their identity and location via virtual private networks and other methods.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay has discussed the closure of Facebook accounts supposedly linked to the military during his meeting with the social media network's policy team.

He said that Facebook found the full scope of the activity after civil society in the country and news organization Rappler brought it to the company's attention. The network had evidently been active since at least 2018, only recently starting to post content both for and against US President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden, according to Gleicher.

They also posted in Chinese, Filipino and English about global news and current events, including Beijing's interests in the South China Sea and Hong Kong.

Issues relevant to the overseas Filipino workers and praise and some criticism of China.

Facebook said on Tuesday it had dismantled a network of fake accounts that originated from China and the Philippines, including some that posted content supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter's "potential" presidential run in 2022.

A post by one of the removed fake accounts
A post by one of the removed fake accounts

The operation appeared to have accelerated between 2019 and 2020, the company said.

Philippine police chief Camilo Cascolan said official force Facebook pages "remain compliant".

They were traced back to individuals based in Fujan province, who were beginning to pay for advertisements in Chinese yuan, Facebook said.

The AFP and PNP signed a new joint directive against local insurgency and terrorism.

"It is incumbent on us at the National Privacy Commission to step up our action especially on platforms, like Facebook that is considered as one of the biggest holders and processors of personal data".

Karapatan said it was among the organizations that complained to Facebook and the Commission on Human Rights through a June 9 letter. Gapay said one of the highlights is the increased effort to use social media to disseminate the government's anti-terrorism programs to the public.

"The Duterte government has a track record of running coordinated harassment and disinformation campaigns targeting political opponents and journalists", said Zarine Kharazian, author of the report and associate editor of the DFR Lab. "It was an opportunity for the AFP to learn how it can work closely with this most popular social media platform", Arevalo said in a statement.

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