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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.



Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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28 Responses

  1. BerJoe says:

    Tsk…tsk… Blowing up in the face(book) of PNoy

  2. blitzkrieg says:

    Sensationalism at its best. Your title is so misleading. Instead of using the word “pressure”, which would make it seem that our government is forcing something. You said it yourself. The logical reason behind this is controlling something sensitive. Do you think the CIA, or the White House, or the British Parliament, or the Russian Duma, or the Chinese National People’s Congress would sit idly if they knew they had an unofficial FB page with millions of followers? What if the person/people maintaining that page spread false information? Seriously, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it can have ENORMOUS consequences.

    And I think it’s extremely shallow and ridiculous to bicker about a FB page that got deleted. Sure, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he means no harm, but it should be expected that these matters have to be left to the President’s office. Instead of saying you lost hope in the President, you should understand and do what a real man would do: step aside, instead of crying like a little girl.

    This isn’t about Internet Freedom and Censorship. It’s about someone who is not authorized by the government dipping his fingers (though probably not in a bad way) in something that he shouldn’t dip into.

  3. Kiko says:

    @blitzkrieg
    you did see the question mark on the title right?

    and that noynoys group adopted the facebook group as the “official” campaign page right?

    and that the govt wanted to run the group page but was denied due to the fact that they wont agree not to censor the negative comments on the page right?

  4. carlobaes says:

    @blitzkrieg: George Syliangco ang galing mo pala mag-ingles. Ipakilala mo naman sa akin si Amvic Taruc. Gusto ko kasing ipasarado fan page ni Ruffa at ilipat sa akin followers nya. Mas maganda naman ako sa kanya. Ahihi.

  5. blitzkrieg says:

    @kiko

    Yes I did. What’s your point? It doesn’t change the fact that it is still misleading. Don’t kid yourself if you think you weren’t thinking of something negative when you saw the title.

    So what if it was adopted during the campaign? Was there any contract between the parties involved that it will continue to go on like that even after the campaign? You’re totally missing the point. It’s a high-level government office and should not be run just by anyone who has the ability to create a FB page.

    There is a place and time for everything. You can’t complain anywhere you want. It was only right for them to disagree about censoring comments in a page.

    It’s easy to overreact when it comes to censorship, especially the media. They always complain about these things, but never do they take responsibility if their actions have created more harm than good.

  6. Pwede na pala gawin ngayon yun. Yung pinaghirapan mong paramihin, pwede palang nakawin na lang basta-basta.

    Pwede palang itransfer yung mga naglike sa page ng isang Celebrity or product.

  7. Paul says:

    Kaysa mga press release at scripted ‘congrats, Manny!’ posts, sana balang araw makita natin ito sa FB page niya…

    > Noynoy Aquino is now in a relationship.

    *mashes Like button repeatedly*

  8. antinazi says:

    @blitzkrieg

    A question is not a statement. If you know something factual, share it and answer the question. You are showing too much bias. You are the one missing the point. Yuga believed the Philippine gov’t does not use it’s influence to pressure Yahoo, Facebook or others. And now we have this evidence staring us in the face. And you are not going to ask questions? You are the one missing the point. Let me spell it out for you. If the gov’t can do this, where does it stop? Do you believe in freedom of speech? Ask yourself that question before you post because it involves everyone, including you and not just the media.

  9. abeguevarra says:

    @blitzkrieg

    Ang question lang naman dito eh pano biglang dumami ung Likes nung official page ng ganun ganun na lang.

    Since inadopt lang naman ung old page nung campaign period edi dapat naglabas na lang sila ng statement na may official page ang pangulo at lahat lang nang mangggaling dun ay ang siyang official na statement na galing sa palasyo.

    Saka umpisa pa lang, kung may logic ang mga tao sa Malakanyang, eh dapat hindi na nila inadopt ung old page as official page o kaya nama’y kinausap na ung Administrator na ibigay na sa kanila ung full rights.

    Paano magiging pagkontrol ng sensitibong impormasyon eh sila na nga mismong nasa Communications Group eh iba iba nang statement.

    Ang logic lang na meron ang Communications Group eh ang maiwasan ang mga negative comments patungkol sa kapalpakan ng Administrasyon kasi nga naman baka mabuksan ang isip ng ibang tao na may mali. So habang maaga icontrol na. Good luck!

  10. defunct says:

    very amusing!

  11. johnny says:

    guys stop taunting each other, wala kayong mapapala sa pag.aaway nyo, ibang tao lng ang makinabang sa bangayan at iringan nyo dyan.

    baka nga gawing national conflict of interest ito mamaya

  12. Mpst says:

    never voted for aquino anyway, this just proves a lot of things about the govt. Censoring, blocking or even removing the authority of the person who created the page which the current president reaped the benefits of, is but a blade to the heart of freedom and privacy, not unless the creator was informed and agreed upon the handover of the page. On a different perspective how about the 1.6m transferred fans, where they informed? In a glance, dogs will always have masters not unless the dog is a wild dog, and things from the wild should stay in the wild.

  13. Mpst says:

    Were they informed**** it is just a fan page, the CIA as an example given above, will never do something as drastic as this, even so, is there sensitive information transmitted within the page? Come to think of it, there is a reason for anything and that is for us to find out.

  14. LagaoLugaw says:

    hahaha! fuck the Aquinos… never voted for them anayway.

  15. Rhadem says:

    Very amusing blog by Yugatech…. hahah na enjoy ako pati na sa mga comments hahaha/…

    To Blitzkrieg

    Umuwi ka nalang sa nanay mo at doon ka mag parada sa pagiging makabayan mo at maka Noy2x…. Negative ang approach sayo ng blog title kase na he hurt ka.. kase maka noy2x ka..as simple as that!

  16. blitzkrieg says:

    @antinazi

    I take issue with the usage of the word “pressure”. Using it in that sense makes it seem like the Philippine government has influence in a non-Filipino corporate titan like Facebook. Do you actually think our government has that much political clout? Why? What does FB gain from it? Nothing. Like I said, it’s so easy to overreact when it comes to freedom of speech. Read my first post again, especially the part where I say something about the CIA, the White House, etc. How can it not be considered dangerous for someone who is not affiliated in any way with the highest office of the government be given the liberty to post whatever he/she wants. Like I said, I give him the benefit of the doubt that he means no harm, but you must understand that something like that CAN (not will) have enormous consequences. Please, try to find a CIA or a White House FB page that has more than a million followers. I’m not saying that they actually exist. I was just giving an example. If it does exist, is it “officially” run by the CIA or the White House. If it doesn’t look official, how many followers does it have? Is it in the millions? Do you actually think the CIA or the White House would allow a page that they don’t run gather so much followers and not be worried?

    Freedom of speech/media/whatever you want to call it still exists. You’re talking as if our internet freedom is mirroring China’s control of their country’s entire digital infrastructure (ex. Great Firewall of China). As I said a lot of times already, it’s so easy to overreact when it comes to these matters. I am not campaigning for our President or the government.

  17. blitzkrieg says:

    @johnny

    Don’t worry. I don’t take it against people if they disagree with me, neither should they take issue with me disagreeing with them. I’m just making my points clearer, at the same time I learn something different from their perspective.

    But of course, you can’t avoid people like carlobaes and Rhadem. They lash out at you for no real reason.

  18. Eihdra says:

    I guess they can because I think I read somewhere that they sent FB an official letter that’s why they shut down the original site.

    This is very embarrassing for us Filipinos because FB is a global site and many other countries can read what had transpired.

    How could Sec. Coloma deny this when I myself didn’t like that new Fan Page and I discovered that I am now part of that new page? So this proves that I along with the rest of the 2M fans where transferred without our consent! Doesn’t that violate our rights too?

    I hope the media will interview Mr. Ben Totanes, the original maker of the disabled Fan Page, so the whole country will know what kind of people surround PNoy. I also hope that Pnoy will say something about this because what usually happens is that he is always late in “knowing” things that happens in his country.

    Circulating those stories in FB alone will not reveal the true colors of these people. I just hope the media will pick this up.

  19. max says:

    This is blatant ABUSE OF POWER!

    They really had to STEAL popularity by getting the fans. Can’t they just make their own Official Page and WORK HARD to EARN their OWN fans. With their money and power they can have millions of likes in a month.

    Parang Martial Law style. Censorship at its best!

    This also proves sarili nya and boss nya at hindi and taong bayan. I am very frustrated.

  20. johnny says:

    guys, take it easy, di naman natin alam ano talaga ang motibo nila.
    ang gawin na lng natin ay magbasa at maghanap ng evidences dito sa net, na nagpapatunay sa ginawa nila.
    ako, meron akong FB, pero i’m just using it to post random pictures na sa tingin ko kakatuwa sa paningin

  21. Whatif says:

    Agree with blitz. Even with “?” Blog title is misleading..

    -baka sinadya ni mr abe para as usual dami hits ang site nya.. Dami hits=dami pera
    J/K

  22. Juan Garcia says:

    Go to the official page at http://www.facebook.com/presidentnoy and you will definitely and concretely see that the page’s admins are not censoring the comments. Ben Totanes just wants to control it. Mabye he’s profiting from it. Hahaha!

  23. lawreas says:

    It all boils down dun sa lack of consent ng FB na ilipat yung mga tao na nag-like..

    I mean, without even any notice??? di mo rin masabi na facebook lang yan, kc the page itself has become the ground for self-expression..

    kahit sinong tao pa yan, celebrity o hinde, unethical yun! Facebook is not affiliated with any government body, nabubuhay sa ads.. so sa consumer’s (user) AT advertiser’s perspective, hindi maganda yun.. ala naman yan sa terms and agreements nung nagsign-up ka for fb ha!

    e di sana shut-down nalang ung unang page, at nag suggest na ilike yung new page..

    tska deleting/moderating negative comments?? para san pa yun?? nagka-guts pa sila na gumawa ng page. haha.. I’m one of the likers in the new page, and I experienced my comment getting deleted, despite it’s decency.

    dun sa mga fanboy dyan, again this is not a personal take of sir yuga to anyone, this is for the unacceptable move of facebook or whoever is involved..

  24. lawreas says:

    misleading title?? can’t you see the question mark?
    it’s not stating as it is true or already confirmed..

    sa isang news writing acceptable yung ganyang title..
    e yung ang issue eh.. it’s all over the news friends, sa tv, sa net.. people are asking about it.. and the title of this post is straightforward as it can be..

    vovo!

  25. carlobaes says:

    George Siliangco at Amvic Taruc! Tingnan niyo ginawa mo sa mga volunteers ni Pnoy. Nagtitiis sila sa bagong kawawa nilang FB page. http://on.fb.me/dhJezN
    Well…at least hindi sila nagnanakaw ng FB page. Pursigido pa rin silang gumawa ng bago.

  26. JerrickYeoh says:

    That still OK which government just change the Facebook fan become others Facebook fan pages.
    My dear Malaysia even worst. Government plan to banned of using Facebook in Malaysia due to spread so bad news about own Government.

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