Philippine police, military disown fake Facebook accounts

September 24, 2020 - 4:31 PM
The Facebook logo is seen on a screen in this picture illustration taken December 2, 2019. (Reuters/Johanna Geron/Illustration/File Photo)

MANILA — The Philippine police and military on Wednesday denied any links to Facebook accounts that were taken down by the social media giant after it said they had engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” interfering in Asian and American politics.

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.

READ: Facebook purges accounts rallying Sara Duterte’s presidential bid, red-tagging of gov’t critics

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) said in separate statements that their official Facebook pages remain active, and that they were committed to the “truth” and “cyber etiquette”.

“All comments and opinions of individual personnel, associations and sectoral groups on matters that are not related to the organization’s activities are hereby disowned by the PNP as unofficial and unauthorized,” the PNP said.

Fewer than 3,000 people followed the American pages, while more than 100,000 accounts tracked those in the Philippines, Facebook said.

In the Philippines, the fake accounts also criticized Rappler, an independent media group that is a frequent target of the Duterte government.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement the government will defer to the “sound judgment and discretion” of Facebook with regard to the takedowns.

But Roque said “we are one in advocating the truth and dismissing disinformation, lies or hatred.”

The Chinese embassy in Manila and Duterte’s daughter, Sara, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The military is looking into Facebook’s report and will use a meeting with representatives of the social media company on Wednesday to get more details, AFP spokesman Edgard Arevalo said.

“The AFP upholds truth and accountability of network and SocMed account managers as to the contents of postings in our websites, pages and accounts,” it said. —Reporting by Karen Lema Editing by Ed Davies