OPINION: Facebook's latest takedowns in PH proof positive of gov't perfidy

Buddy Gomez -- Cyberbuddy

Posted at Sep 25 2020 06:58 PM

Grand-scale deception. Ginisa sa sariling mantika! Fried in one’s own lard! 

There is no other way to characterize the surreptitious, treasonous legerdemain against the people’s well-being, their better interests and equanimity; with government caught lying to the governed, as confirmed by Facebook, Inc., on revealing the Duterte administration’s nefarious propaganda activities. 

A betrayal of taxpayers’ trust, no less. The fooling and dumbing down of the people using the very peoples’ money! Such are my sentiments and conclusion. And such ought also be yours.

The government has all along, as long we have suspected, been committing organized deception and calumny by expending our tax money utilizing Facebook, among others, as its launching pad for falsehoods and disinformation, targeting democratic opposition, perceived enemies of Duterte, oppositionists and critics of his administration.

How else can the concerned and righteous Filipino react to Tuesday’s news captured in items such as: 

What does “coordinated inauthentic behavior” mean, anyway? 

That is Facebook’s polite manner of describing “when groups of pages work together to mislead others about who they are or what they are doing.” Don’t you find that a tactful and prudent expression instead of a plain in your face “you are lying and I have caught you!”? 

Facebook, Inc.’s head of Cybersecurity Policy Mr. Nathaniel Gleicher visited the country and may even be still around as we discourse. He has reportedly met and briefed the relevant officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) of Facebook’s findings. 

When just about two weeks earlier, we chatted in this space about Facebook’s rank and file concern over the truth and ‘doing better,’ I did not realize that matters were in fact already astir within Facebook about the Philippine situation concerning the proliferation of mercenary trolls armed with fake accounts. A well deserved epithet ought to be: “Duterte’s Trolletariat.” Don’t you agree? 

Mr. Gleicher’s Manila visit must indeed be a response to the investigative endeavors of Rappler, the Philippines’ online news website, headed by the internationally acclaimed Filipina journalist Maria Ressa. Maria, who as we well know, has been the subject of an ongoing government harassment by way of multiple lawsuits not only against her very person but against Rappler, too. We also know that she remains resolute and uncowed, decidedly undeterred from undertaking national yeoman’service and dedication in pursuit of truth in professional journalistic reportage as a pillar indispensable to effective democracy.

Rappler, by the way, has an official relationship with Facebook. It is partner of “Third-Party Fact-Checking Program” which aims to assist “Facebook flag or identify false news stories shared by people on its social media platform.”
 

Concerned citizens must opt, support and actively participate in the patriotic responsibility of vigilance for truth in governance.

Of the dismantled network of fake accounts, Mr. Gleicher states that “although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found links to Philippine military and Philippine police.” In other words, Facebook and Rappler have been able to trace identities. In the days ahead we can expect names to surface.

Expectedly, the AFP and the PNP, in separate prepared statements denied links to the accounts that were shut down for spreading disinformation. CIB! “Coordinated inauthentic behavior.” Both uniformed services insisted that they had no hand in the management of the accounts shut down. In fact, they claimed adherence and commitment to ‘truth’ and ‘cyber etiquette,’ at the same time disowning such accounts but referring to them as unofficial and unauthorized! 

 

Tacitly admitting, therefore, knowledge of the existence of such fake accounts. Nonetheless, their denial of responsibility comes despite “multiple reports documenting police and military commands spreading fabricated information on their social media accounts.” On the other hand, both were silent on culpability by reason of “command responsibility!”

It will be recalled that earlier in the year during the Defense Department’s budgetary hearings before the House of Representatives, Secretary Delfin Lorenzana defended the official social media accounts of the military commands. In other words, the uniformed establishment knew of their existence all along. 

Thanks to Facebook and Rappler, now we know who to hold responsible for spreading manufactured information aimed at critics, a by-the-book military practice of red-tagging suspected militants. Now we also know where a significant portion of Malacanang’s unprecedentedly humungous increases in its budgeted allocations for ‘intelligence’ and ‘confidential’ funds are being marshalled towards. 

Unfortunately and sadly demoralizing, by reason of much displayed slavish subservience and unprofessional servility, much of which exhibited by both the security services’ senior leadership in the current political era, the AFP and the PNP suffer from a serious deficiency in credibility.

Let me end by quoting a dear old friend from Manila, a highly respected concerned citizen who said: “The electorate was really misled by the power of social media!”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tomas 'Buddy' Gomez III began his professional media career in ABS-CBN's (previously Chronicle Broadcasting Network) DZQL-Radio Reloj in 1957, after which he spent 25 years with the Ayala Group.

In 1986, the then Pres. Cory Aquino appointed him Consul General to Hawaii and later served as her Press Secretary.

During the Ramos administration, he was chairman and president of state-owned IBC-13 Network.

After government service, he became an ‘OFW’ in the U.S., working as front-desk clerk and then assistant general manager of a hotel. He also worked as a furniture and antique restoration specialist.

He is now retired and lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.