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Duterte: “Is there life after Facebook? I don’t know”

Duterte: “Is there life after Facebook? I don’t know”

According to research, the Philippines was among the top users of Facebook in the world as of July 2020. We ranked sixth with around 76 million users, behind countries such as the United States and India, which topped the list with more than 100 million users each. That paints the picture on how Filipinos are dependent on this platform.

Photo from Inquirer Online

Facebook took down an army of fake accounts

Even though with the least affordable Internet connection, Facebook users are practically everywhere. However, President Duterte suddenly began asking the social media giant of its purpose. He is questioning the continuous operation of Facebook in the Philippines after the company took down several “advocacy” pages of the government. That includes the pages set up by the military and police.

Illustration by Dado Ruvic from Reuters

Nathaniel Gleicher, the Facebook head of security policy, announced that the social media platform had taken down two networks. According to Gleicher, the pages that were taken down contained posts critical of the opposition, activists, and the ideals of communism.

Allegedly, these networks are using a myriad of fake accounts to operate.  It seems that the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are operating one of the networks. However, both denied being the account holders.

Duterte calls out Facebook after accounts taken down

In reaction, Duterte said that it appears that Facebook believed accusations from leftists critical of his administration. Duterte aired his sentiments through a pre-recorded address aired last night. He said, “What would be the point of allowing you to continue if you cannot help us?

Illustration by War Espejo from Spot.PH

Then he added further,” It’s so convoluted I cannot understand. But put it this way: Tell me why can’t I use [Facebook] for the benefit of the people? If government cannot use it for the good of the people, then we have to talk. We have to talk sense.”

“Facebook, listen to me,” Duterte said in a late-night televised address. “We allow you to operate here hoping that you could help us. Now, if government cannot espouse or advocate something which is for the good of the people, then what is your purpose here in my country?”

His following comments are about Facebook’s move on Sept. 22 to dismantle a network of fake accounts that originated in China and the Philippines. Some of this fake accounts criticized the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).

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“Is there life after Facebook? I don’t know” Duterte said.

Platforms like Facebook have become political battlegrounds and have helped strengthen Duterte’s support base, having been instrumental in his election victory in 2016. But now, the President himself is questioning its very purpose.

What do you guys think about these statements from Duterte?

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