NPC probes Facebook’s removal of ‘inauthentic’ accounts

NPC probes Facebook’s removal of ‘inauthentic’ accounts

MANILA – The National Privacy Commission (NPC) on Thursday said it initiated a “deeper probe” into Facebook’s recent removal of “inauthentic” accounts with alleged ties to China and the Philippines’ military and police.

In a statement, NPC Commissioner Raymund Liboro said the investigation will look into Facebook’s “preventive actions,” noting that it threatens the privacy and security of Filipino netizens.

“Facebook’s proposed preventive actions regarding the proliferation of suspicious accounts as such activities on the platform continue to threaten the personal data privacy and other security-related rights of its Filipino users,” Liboro said.

He said the investigation will look into Facebook’s removal of two separate networks — each allegedly originating in China and the Philippines, respectively — that violated the platform’s policy against “coordinated inauthentic behavior (CIB) on behalf of a foreign or government entity”.

Facebook claimed that the removal of the Filipino network resulted in 57 deleted Facebook accounts, 31 pages, and 20 Instagram accounts due to “foreign or government interference”.

Liboro said an invitation was sent to Facebook to appear before the NPC as part of its investigation and asked the company to comply with the country’s “laws, rules, and regulations”.

“Social media platforms shall elevate their community standards to a level that adequately protects the data privacy rights of Filipino data subjects and rights to free speech and expression,” he said.

He noted that the NPC in 2018 has looked into an exploit on Facebook that allowed the “View As” feature to extract a user’s access token without consent.

The past probe, he said, resulted in Facebook receiving an order to comply with the provisions of the Data Privacy Act of 2012, “such as establishing a dedicated help desk for Filipino data subjects on privacy related matters”.

“It is incumbent on us at the National Privacy Commission to step up our action especially on platforms, like Facebook that is considered as one of the biggest holders and processors of personal data,” Liboro said.

On Tuesday, Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook cybersecurity policy chief, announced the company’s shutdown of over 100 fake accounts that criticized activist and communist groups.

He noted that the network was most active in 2019 when discussions about the Anti-Terrorism Act were at its peak. (PNA)

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