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AFP shuts down 10 of terrorists’ social media accounts

Restituto Padilla

Armed Forces of the Philippines Spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla. PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

The Armed Forces of the Philippines had “more than 10” social media accounts closed down for spreading propaganda from terrorists who had besieged Marawi City, a military spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the military also wanted to arrest the people behind the accounts, which the AFP had been closely monitoring and whose numbers had grown from 63 to “nearly 80,” the majority on Facebook.

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“We have touched base with social media companies to request their assistance to put down sites that are fomenting disinformation and discord, as well as violence,” Padilla said, adding that these companies had provided “very good assistance.”

“As soon as a determination has been made that these accounts are actually being used for the purposes that I said, then it is brought down immediately,” he said.

“But the point is, it only solves the closing of the account. The individuals behind those accounts are the more important targets of our operation,” he added.

Cybersedition

The AFP would go after the people behind the accounts and charge them with “cybersedition,” he said.

Padilla declined to name the suspects because they might flee and go into hiding if they were publicly identified. “Let’s not give them that benefit,” he said.

The official said the military would go after people clearly “supporting” the gunmen belonging to the Abu Sayyaf and the Maute group who have sworn allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) and have been battling government forces in Marawi for the past three weeks.

The gunmen are led by Isnilon Hapilon, the supposed leader of IS in Southeast Asia. The United States has offered a $5-million reward for his capture.

Information Technology Secretary Rodolfo Salalima on Tuesday said the government would soon arrest people spreading terrorist propaganda online for “cybersedition.”

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“You do sedition when you incite people via cyber or via internet,” Salalima told reporters in Malacañang.

He said “more than one” cybersedition suspects had been identified but declined to give details.

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TAGS: Armed Forces of the Philippines, fake news, Islamic State, Marawi siege, Maute group, Philippine news updates, Social Media, Terrorism
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