A YOUTH organization lauded the takedown of fake news sites by social media giant, Facebook.
Reginald Flores, convenor of Youth Act Now! Against Tyranny (Yanat) Baguio-Benguet, in a statement said the shutdown down of over 100 troll pages and fake accounts linked to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) is a "peoples' victory for truth."
"The AFP and PNP are wasting peoples’ taxes for online misinformation,” Flores said.
According to a report from Yanat Baguio-Benguet, in the Cordillera region alone, at least 20 youth leaders and 27 youth organizations have been at the receiving end of online attacks.
Around 83 unique Facebook posts of about 61 troll accounts and official AFP and PNP pages/accounts were reportedly posting and sharing materials cultivating hate and misinformation towards Anakbayan, Kabataan Partylist, League of Filipino Students and the multi-sectoral organization Cordillera People's Alliance, among others.
In June 2020, Yanat filed an official complaint to Facebook following the spate of "massive online red-tagging and smear campaign" of identified PNP and AFP Facebook pages against youth activists and organizations in the Cordillera.
These pages include those from the Police Regional Office Cordillera, 5th IBPA, PNP Camp Major Dennis Molintas and troll accounts Timek ti Cagayan, Teamy Macky, Shirly Ann Angs, among others.
"For the longest time, these Facebook accounts have besmirched the good name of youth activists and organizations without any consequence whatsoever. The mere verification that these troll accounts are linked to the PNP and AFP is enough to paint a clear picture of the systematic and organized attacks of the well-oiled state machinery in silencing dissent and spreading misinformation," Flores said.
Yanat is a network of youth organizations and individuals.
Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of security policy, said the deleted accounts were said to produce content that contains support for the Anti-Terror Law, targeted harassment against youth activists and critics and praise for China’s involvement in the Philippines' political affairs. The accounts originated domestically and were reportedly spending $1,100 (PHP 50,000) in paid advertisements for boosting of the said content.
In the report, Facebook said it has taken down 57 Facebook accounts, 31 pages and 20 Instagram accounts linked to the Philippine military and police. Yanat Baguio-Benguet lauds this development as "a huge step towards our mission for truth and justice."
The group calls for the defunding and abolition of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, saying the task force is one of the "key players" behind these forms of attacks inflicted upon civilians.