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Philippine military to review troop accounts following Facebook purge

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The Philippine network involved 57 Facebook accounts, 31 pages and 20 Instagram profiles. AFP

Philippine military to review troop accounts following Facebook purge

The Philippine military said on Wednesday it will review the social media accounts of service members after Facebook took down a network linked to State security forces it accused of “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”.

Facebook said it had removed two networks – one traced to the Philippines and another to China’s Fujian province – for violating its policies.

The Philippine network involved 57 Facebook accounts, 31 pages and 20 Instagram profiles, according to Nathaniel Gleicher, head of security policy at the social media giant.

He said in a blog post: “Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found links to Philippine military and Philippine police.”

Activities focused on local politics, military operations, a controversial anti-terrorism bill and criticism of communist insurgents.

At least 300 activists who were tagged as communist sympathisers have been killed since Duterte became president in 2016, in what civil rights advocates have slammed as a campaign to shut down dissent and criticism of Duterte’s bloody drug war and human rights record.

Even the international humanitarian organisation Oxfam had been identified as a suspected financier of communist groups.

Philippine military chief Lieutenant-General Gilbert Gapay on Wednesday urged troops to comply with Facebook guidelines.

“The [armed forces of the Philippines] does not tolerate the uploading of fake news and fictitious social media accounts,” he said ahead of a meeting later on Wednesday with Facebook officials in Manila.

“This development also prompted us to review personnel accounts and remind them of our policies.”

Philippine police chief Camilo Cascolan said official-force Facebook pages “remain compliant”.

The force adheres to “cyber etiquette and proper decorum in all public engagements including social media”, he said.

The Fujian network also sought to push Duterte-Carpio to run for president in 2022.

Duterte-Carpio led a political coalition that nearly swept the Senate race two years ago.

That was seen as a dry run for her bid to succeed her father, although political parties under her coalition have been pushing for their candidates.

But her father’s endorsement would likely compel these parties to rally around Duterte-Carpio against her possible main rival, Vice-President Leni Robredo, who heads the opposition.

Tuesday’s action by Facebook was the third takedown of suspicious Philippine accounts since 2018 when it stepped up an offensive against misinformation.

In January last year, it removed hundreds of pages with 43 million followers linked to a local digital marketing group.

Facebook said the campaign out of China it took down focused on the Philippines and South East Asia, but also took aim at the US presidential race.

Posts commented particularly on naval activity in the South China Sea, including US vessels.

AFP, THE STRAITS TIMES (SINGAPORE)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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