UP Cebu students, faculty find Facebook accounts duplicated
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Empty duplicate accounts bearing usernames of several students and alumni of the University of the Philippines (UP) have proliferated on Facebook.
Tug-ani, the official student publication of UP Cebu, first reported about the dummy accounts on Saturday evening, a day after three of its students and five other individuals were arrested while holding a protest action against the controversial anti-terrorism bill in front of the university campus in Cebu City.
Two of those arrested—Bern Cañedo and Nar Porlas—were found to have at least 30 duplicate accounts on Facebook, sowing fears that this might involve identity theft or targeted attacks against UP Cebu students.
Student organizations eventually found out that the duplicate accounts were not limited to UP Cebu but as well as other students and even alumni of different UP campuses across the country.
“We express our utmost alarm since these accounts are suspected to cause harm or spread false information. It would be best if we all stay informed and vigilant,” said a statement from the UP Office of the Student Regent.
“We are encouraging students not to panic and instead help each other in reporting suspicious accounts only. We just need to stand together against possible tactics seeking to silence our voice,” it added.
The student body expressed hopes that there was just a glitch in the system which could be resolved as soon as possible.
“However, let it be clear that we will not tolerate any misleading content posted on any account that will endanger our students,” the UP Office of the Student Regent said.
In a separate post on Facebook, the UP System urged members of the UP community to check their names and accounts and to make the proper report to the Data Protection Officer (DPO) of Facebook.
“Rest assured that the UP System Data Protection Officer has reached out to the Philippine National Police Privacy Commission to help students and alumni report fake or dummy accounts in their name to the DPO of Facebook,” it said.
Even UP Cebu Chancellor Liza Corro was not spared by the fake FB accounts.
“I received a flood of reports from our students that fake Facebook accounts were made under their names. So I also checked for a Facebook account under my name outside of my existing accounts. And true enough, there was also one under my name just very recently created with no profile picture of mine,” she said.
It had no posts except for pictures of just two of her actual friends and one picture of herself taken a long time ago.
Corro said she reported it right away to Facebook as a fake account and was immediately deleted.
But soon thereafter, not even a minute had passed by, another fake Facebook account under her name was created.
“It still had no profile picture of myself, but had a picture of another different friend of mine. However this time, my birthdate can be publicly seen,” she said.
Again, Corro reported it right away to Facebook as a fake account which again was also immediately pulled down.
“And the next thing I saw, another account was created still with my name, but a profile picture of a different woman was placed. Real-time, right before my eyes, I saw how fake accounts under my name were being created,” she said.
“Who could be behind this? Posts might be made in these fake accounts to be passed off as made by the alleged account holder to incriminate the person. Let us all be careful,” she added.
Last Friday, June 5, eight persons were arrested by policemen for allegedly violating the government’s ban on mass gatherings when they held a rally against the anti-terrorism bill in front of the entrance gate of UP Cebu, despite wearing face masks and standing wide apart from each other.
Charges for violating the Batas Pambansa 880 or the Public Assembly Act of 1985, Republic Act 11332 otherwise known as the Law on Reporting of Communicable Diseases, and resistance and disobedience to persons in authority were filed against them at the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office.
Named respondents were UP Cebu students Joahanna Veloso, 22, and vice president of National Union of Students of the Philippines, Cañedo, 21, of Youth Act Now Against Tyranny Cebu, and Porlas of Anakbayan UP Cebu; April Dyan Gumanao, a volunteer of the Kabataan party-list; Jaime Paglinawan, 60, of the Alyansa sa mga Mamumuo sa Sugbo-Kilusang Mayo Uno and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Central Visayas; Al Ingking, 26, a UP alumnus; Janry Ubal, 29, of Food Not Bombs Cebu; and 19-year-old Clement Corominas Jr. who claimed to just have passed by UP Cebu when the dispersal happened and was also arrested when he asked a policeman what happened.
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