CHR vows to go after military, police if links to taken down Facebook accounts proven true
(Philstar.com) – September 25, 2020 – 3:11pm
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights on Friday vowed it will go after the Philippine military and police if their links to Facebook accounts spreading disinformation are proven true.
Facebook head of security policy Nathaniel Gleicher announced earlier this week that it had taken down 155 accounts, 11 Pages, nine Groups and six Instagram accounts for violating its “policy against foreign or government interference which is coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign or government entity.”
CHR Commissioner Karen Gomez Dumpit welcomed the removal of fake accounts on Facebook but said the supposed link of the Philippine military and police to these taken down accounts “alarming.”
“If this is true, the Commission categorically states that this goes against the best interest of the public. In these times when cyber militias and troll farms are reported to drown out legitimate dissent and haphazardly label individuals and organizations as ‘enemies of the people,’ such allegations cast doubts on the agenda of these institutions,” she added.
Facebook’s Community Standards define “inauthentic behavior” as using Facebook or Instagram assets “to mislead people or Facebook” on their identity, purpose or origin, or on the popularity of a page or post, or “to evade enforcement under our Community Standards.”
Links to military and police
Gleicher said its investigation found that the network between the taken down accounts posted local news on several issues including the pending anti-terrorism bill, criticism of communism, youth activists and opposition and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
He added: “Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found links to Philippine military and Philippine police.”
The CHR has repeatedly stressed the danger of red-tagging or the “accusing individuals of being subversives [used as a] strategy…by state against those perceived to be ‘threats’ or ‘enemies’ of the state.”
Although the military denied its hand in the smashed network, it also asked the social media giant to restore one page which it said was a “legitimate advocacy page.”
The Philippine National Police said it will launch an investigation into the matter raised by the social media giant.
Dumpit stressed: “If proven that such malicious activity is a state-sponsored propaganda, the CHR commits to hold those perpetrators to account as they are violations of civil and political rights.”
Craft laws against disinformation
Dumpit also stressed that disinformation is a human rights issue. “False information causes serious harm to society, and Facebook has been weaponised against democracy and freedom of expression,” she added.
The commissioner said the result of Facebook’s investigation also showed the need for lawmakers to craft measures against those who “systematically purvey disinformation” while balancing it with the people’s right to freedom of expression.
She also called for improving digital literacy and critical thinking among Filipino internet users to reduce the impact of disinformation. — Kristine Joy Patag with reports from Franco Luna