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PNP probes link of fake FB accounts to protests

By: Leila B. Salaverria - Inquirer.net - Inquirer.net | June 10,2020 - 09:16 AM

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police chief, Gen. Archie Gamboa, said on Tuesday that the link between the recent proliferation of dummy Facebook accounts and the antiterror bill or destabilization attempts has yet to be established, but the PNP anticybercrime division would continue to look into the matter.

Gamboa warned those behind these bogus accounts to stop their activities or face criminal charges.

“You will be facing criminal charges and it’s not worth it if you just want to create trouble. It’s not worth it, the risk. Later on, if you will face cases and you won’t be happy because the full force of the law will be after you,” he said during the televised press briefing.

He also said the PNP needs the help of Facebook in going after the dummy accounts because the users might deactivate them before the police could trace their identities.

Facebook, in a statement sent earlier to the Inquirer, said it was looking into the surge in fake accounts.

“We understand the concerns raised by our community in the Philippines,” Facebook said. “We’re investigating reports of suspicious activity on our platform and taking action on any accounts that we find to be in violation of our policies.”

The fake accounts, which duplicated the accounts of existing Facebook users, bore no profile pictures, had few or no friends and hardly had any posts, suggesting they were newly created.

The National Privacy Commission used to get reports about cloned accounts but not in this scale, Commissioner Raymund Liboro said on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Sen. Francis Pangilinan sought a Senate inquiry into the mushrooming of the bogus accounts of students, government officials, journalists and other users, which could put their security and privacy at risk.

Panglinan noted that the bogus accounts surfaced after the protests against the passage of the antiterror bill.

There were individuals who received threats on their Facebook accounts from the dummy accounts bearing their names, and some were accused of being terrorists, he said.

“The academe and several human rights advocates are concerned that the dummy Facebook accounts may be used as a tool to spread false information, cause harm, and even plant fake evidence to be used to frame users under the proposed law,” he said in his resolution calling for an inquiry.

According to Pangilinan, the Senate probe was needed to determine if there is a need to amend the Cybercrime Prevention Act or other laws so that they could better address a situation like this.

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TAGS: anti-terror bill, Facebook, fake accounts

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