Phil. Gov’t pressures Facebook over Fans?
There was a story in the Guardian UK that claims the Philippine’s is becoming like China in web censorship and I agreed to do an interview for an article as a rebuttal saying that the Philippines is among the most liberal in terms of general internet activity and social media and that there has been no cases of the government using its power & influence to pressure sites like YouTube, Facebook and the likes to its advantage.
Not until this month when the original FB Fan Page of Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino (facebook.com/noynoy.aquino) was shut down by Facebook, allegedly under the order of the office of the President. All of the 2.2 million Facebook fans were gone overnight. This page was maintained by an supporter even before Noynoy announced he’s running for president.
On the other hand, a new and separate Fan Page (facebook.com/presidentnoy), created by the office of the President, also got a nice treatment from Facebook. With just over 100k Likes, it ballooned to 1.6 million in a matter of days.
The most logical reason for these changes was Facebook manually removed the Likes from one Fan Page and transferred it to the other Fan Page which is controlled by the government. All done magically without notice from Facebook.
The reason might seem pretty obvious — the original fan page was moderated by groups and individuals independent of the office of the President and allows free flow of content, positive or negative, on the page. Not good if you want to “filter” the flow of communication.
Taking over the fan page would look harsh so they decided to tell Facebook to just shut down the old one and transfer the Likes to the new one. The Philippines being in the top 10 most active FB users in the world, Facebook didn’t blinked an eye and gave in to the request.
Update: Just read how the whole thing transpired here.
Update: Sec. Sonny Coloma of the Communications Group issued 2 statements here and here. They are basically denying they don’t have any hand in this incident and it was all Facebook’s actions. Strange. I didn’t know you can request FB to transfer Fans/Likes just like that.