Facebook shuts down ‘spammy’ pages linked to Duterte, Imee Marcos
Updated @ 11:55 p.m., Oct. 23, 2018
Facebook said it had taken down scores of pages and accounts in the Philippines, including those linked to President Rodrigo Duterte and Imee Marcos, daughter of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, for violating its spam and authentication policies.
In a statement on Tuesday, Facebook said a total of 95 pages and 39 accounts were “encouraging people to visit low quality websites that contain little substantive content and are full of disruptive ads.”
“These pages ranged from political to entertainment content, but all were sharing links to the same advertising click farms off Facebook,” it said.
At least one of the pages had 4.8 million followers, it added.
“We don’t want this kind of behavior on Facebook — and we’re investing heavily in both people and technology to keep bad content off our services,” Facebook said.
Facebook said it used reports from the social media community and machine learning and artificial intelligence “to detect bad behavior and take action more quickly.”
“We’re monitoring for a range of abuses on Facebook, including spam behavior, and will remove any account or page that breaks our rules,” it added.
The pages include names like Duterte Media, Duterte sa Pagbabago BUKAS, DDS, Duterte Phenomenon and DU30 Trending News.
Malacañang said it respected Facebook’s decision, adding that there were other avenues on the internet for supporters of the President to express their admiration for his administration.
According to Facebook, thousands of people are working on the security and safety of content across the globe.
“This is some of the most important work being done at Facebook. This takedown is a small step in the right direction, and we will continue working to find and remove more bad content,” Facebook said.
Nonpolitical entertainment-oriented pages, like Hot Babes, Bossing Vic, Like and Win and Karlo ang Probinsyano, were also among the pages and accounts that had been shut down.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the spam violations did not necessarily reflect the behavior of majority of the President’s supporters, who were often vocal on social media.
“Facebook has had its own rules and regulations. If they’re implementing that, then that’s their own rule,” he said at a press briefing on Tuesday.
“If the concern is there will be no more avenues, there are so many avenues. We have Twitter, Instagram and many others where advocates can express themselves in support of this administration,” Panelo said.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo welcomed Facebook’s move, hoping more “fake news sites be taken out.”
“Facebook should really be serious in taking down fake news sites. If they were taken down because of fake news that they initiate or promote, then it is welcome news,” Pabillo said in a text message to the Inquirer.
Last year, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) listed websites “carrying fake or unverified contents.”
The CBCP urged Catholics “to refrain from patronizing, popularizing and supporting identified sources of ‘alternative facts’ or ‘fake news.’”
Assistant Secretary Ana Marie Rafael-Banaag of the Presidential Communications Operations Office was unfazed by Facebook’s online purging.
“We have always been fair in … disseminating information properly, and in being responsible in sharing information,” Banaag said at a news conference.
“We don’t put color in everything we do, especially in our campaign versus disinformation,” she said. —With reports from Julie M. Aurelio, Tina G. Santos and Jaymee T. Gamil
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.