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Gov’t says 2 social media accounts taken down due to ‘questionable posts’

/ 09:50 PM April 06, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — At least two social media accounts have been taken down since the government launched a crackdown against disinformation on the COVID-19 epidemic as provided under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

Based on President Rodrigo Duterte’s second weekly report to Congress, the two social media accounts have been taken down due to “questionable posts.”

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The second weekly report was submitted to Congress on Monday night. Legislators passed the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which gave Duterte additional powers, including the reallocation of government funds, in order to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. But the law required Duterte to submit a progress report every Monday of each week to ensure that provisions are implemented correctly and not abused.

The Anti-Cyber Crime Division of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said in the report that it has so far issued subpoenas to certain individuals “in connection with alleged acts of posting fake news online,” the report noted.

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This move, it noted, is pursuant to Section 6(f) of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which punishes “(i)ndividuals or groups creating, perpetuating, or spreading false information regarding the (COVID-19) crisis on social media and other platforms, such information having no valid or beneficial effect on the population, and are clearly geared to promote chaos, panic, anarchy, fear, or confusion; and those participating in cyber incidents that make use or take advantage of the current crisis situation to prey on the public through scams, phishing, fraudulent emails, or other similar acts.”

Earlier, the Human Rights Watch expressed alarm that the specific provision may be “easily misused” by authorities “to crack down on online criticism of government efforts.”

KGA

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