Philippines

Mayor Sara’s account falls prey to Facebook ‘cleansing’

Mayor Sara’s account falls prey to Facebook ‘cleansing’
By Christine Cudis

Davao Mayor Sara Z, Duterte leads the campaign for Hugpong ng Pagbabago senatorial slate. Mayor Sara relies heavily on social media for her campaigns. Her Facebook account was shut down due to “massive reports”. (PNA file photo)

MANILA (Philippines News Agency) –Davao City Mayor and presidential daughter Sara Z. Duterte’s account has been recently shut down by Facebook and the local chief executive’s camp suspects that the opposition has something to do with it.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Friday, Davao City Information Office chief Jefry Tupas said the mayor’s verified account was engaging Filipinos by the millions but was terminated due to “massive reports”.

Tupas said Facebook has been purging accounts “and most of these accounts are pro-Duterte. Makes you wonder what’s the role of the yellow in this so-called ‘cleansing’.”

Some of the pages removed include “Bong Go Supporters,” “Duterte Warriors,” “Pinulungang Binisaya,” “Trending Now,” and “Kuya Sonny Angara.”

Mayor Sara’s camp heavily relied on social media for the campaigns of Hugpong ng Pagbabago, a regional political party that she formed and whose senatorial slate topped Pulse Asia survey.

In an Asia Foundation report, social media was seen as a game-changer in the 2016 elections, noting that it sparked political discourse never before seen in the country’s election history. For the May 13 mid-term elections, it also holds true.

Meanwhile, Ramon Beleno III, spokesman of Blue Vote, Ateneo de Davao University’s political education campaig,n said people could only say that something is not fair if the statistics of the purged accounts of the administration versus the opposition is higher than the other.

“We cannot jump into conclusion, we would assume that it is anti-govt but let us give them the benefit of the doubt kung purely administration-led accounts then we could probably say that it is not fair,” Beleno said in a separate interview.

Last week, during a press briefing in Taguig City, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher said the cluster of pages that have been taken down have used a mix of real and fake accounts to drive messaging in behalf of political candidates.

Gleicher, who flew to Manila for the briefing, said a total of 3.6 million Filipinos follow at least one of the pages and at least 1.8 million accounts are involved in one of the identified groups.

Earlier, Nicanor Gabunada Jr., Social Media Director of the Duterte Campaign, said he felt “singled out” when his account was taken down on Friday (March 29) because he expressed support for the President and his choice of candidates while the accounts of those who backed bets belonging to the opposition were not.

“There is a reason for me to suspect that they pulled down pages and groups associated with the President and the candidates of the President because they thought it will weaken the support base and also diminish the chances of pro-admin candidates. Big mistake,” Gabunada said in a statement.

Gabunada, who also manages a Facebook page called “Nic Goes Online”, pointed out that other pages taken down, which are pro-Duterte and pro-Duterte backed candidates, were not even associated with him. (PNA)

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