By RAYMUND B. VILLANUEVA
An arts and media group has slammed social media platform Facebook for taking down accounts of Duterte critics Mae “Juana Change” Paner and the popular Pinoy Ako Blog (PAB) creator Jover Laurio.
The Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI), itself critical of attacks on press freedom and freedom of expression under the Rodrigo Duterte government, today assailed Facebook for the move against Paner and Laurio, two well-known critics of President Duterte.
“We demand that Facebook immediately and unconditionally restore Mae’s account,” veteran journalist and LODI convenor Inday Espina Varona said.
Mae’s takedown followed a similar action last week against Jover, LODI in a statement said.
It took two days of “bombardment” by Laurio and many supporters to restore her account.
“We call on Facebook to stop being complicit in the silencing of President Duterte’s critics,” Varona said.
She noted that Mae’s posts in the last few days have been largely on #BabaeAko , a campaign against President Rodrigo Duterte’s misogyny.
“This is not the first time Facebook has taken down accounts of activists and politically-involved Filipinos, and Facebook Pages maintained by activist organizations and campaigns. Facebook has also been censoring content, as we saw in the taking down of posts critical of the Marcoses,” Varona said.
“Facebook recently announced that it would take steps to combat the proliferation of Fake News. But what has been more pronounced, as in the case of Mae and the others, is that it is wittingly or unwittingly helping silence voices exposing and fighting Fake News,” she added.
Facebook’s ‘dangerous’ Real Name policy
Another LODI convenor, newspaper columnist Tonyo Cruz, in the statement said that the implementation of Facebook’s Real Name policy is apparently doing more harm than good especially in the Philippines.
“Many activists and campaigners in other countries ruled by dictatorships have long asked Facebook not to deny citizens the right to use pseudonyms which prove important in protecting dissenters,” said Cruz.
“I didn’t expect that we’d need it in 2018, but there sure are legitimate reasons for many Filipinos to use pseudonyms amid Duterte’s rising tyranny,” Cruz added.
Cruz said the application of the Real Name policy on Paner could not have been a result of due diligence or even the most basic investigations.
“A simple Google search about Mae Paner would lead Facebook officers and staff to plenty of stories, images and videos about her, including links to her Facebook account,” Cruz said.
Cruz added that Facebook should also check reports that the takedowns of the accounts of Mae and Laurio are a result of “mass reporting” by Duterte supporters.
“If this is true, Facebook should take steps against those who game its reporting system. There are lots of accounts that spread Fake News and hate speech that should be taken down. Accounts of activists should be spared and protected,” Cruz said.