Facebook Shuts Down Online Network In Philippines For “Inauthentic Behavior”


(Reuters) – Facebook Inc took down a social media network in the Philippines for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” and took the unusual step of linking it to a businessman who said he led the president’s online election campaign in 2016 .

Photo illustration shows a Facebook logo reflected in a person’s eye, in Zenica, March 13, 2015. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic

Facebook said its investigation found that the online activity was linked to a network organized by a former general manager of Omnicom Media Group Philippines, whom he identified as Nic Gabunada, and said it removed 200 groups pages and accounts on Facebook and Instagram.

“The individuals behind this activity used a combination of genuine and fake accounts to serve content on a variety of pages and groups,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s cybersecurity policy manager, said in a statement. dated Thursday.

“They frequently published local and political information, including such topics as the upcoming elections, candidate updates and opinions, allegations of misconduct by political opponents and the controversial events alleged to have taken place in the country. past administrations, “he said.

Facebook said it deleted the pages and accounts “based on their behavior, not the content they posted.”

Gabunada told ABS-CBN News he was “unhappy” that Facebook linked him to the questionable pages and accounts.

“If they have to close my account, that’s their prerogative. On the other hand, they have to consider that I am not doing it for what they accuse me of, ”Gabunada said.

In an interview with the Rappler news site in May 2016, shortly after President Rodrigo Duterte was elected, Gabunada said he volunteered to help lead Duterte’s social media team during his campaign.

Deputy Secretary of the Presidential Office of Communications Operations (PCOO) Ana Marie Banaag said Duterte only had one communications group, the PCOO, and Gabunada was not one of them.

Duterte, a former city mayor who is not among the political elite, took to social media to help him win the 2016 election by a wide margin.

The Philippines is due to hold midterm elections in May which are seen as a referendum on Duterte’s administration.

At least one of the pages deleted by Facebook was called “Duterte Warriors”.

Another has been named “Bong Go Supporters,” in reference to supporters of the President’s longtime Special Assistant, Senate candidate Christopher “Bong” Go.

“The president has nothing to do with these accounts,” his spokesman, Salvador Panelo, told reporters.

Studies have shown that the Philippines sometimes leads the world when it comes to texting, using Facebook, and posting selfies.

Filipinos in 2017 spent an average of nearly four hours a day on social media, more than any other country, according to a 2018 report from social media management companies, We Are Social and Hootsuite.

Reporting by Gaurika Juneja and Karen Lema; Additional reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Rashmi Aich, Robert Birsel

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