Facebook censors post on Duterte-Marcos dirty deals

At around 8:30 tonight, 2 Jan. 2018, I received an interesting notice from Facebook that it took down one of my post today, and restricted access to my account. The reason given was that I allegedly violated “Community Standards”.

Sadly, I wasn’t able to take a screenshot of the notice.

I can still see my news feed and receive messages — but if I try to post, comment, Facebook would give this message: “You’ve recently posted something that violates Facebook policies, so you’re temporarily blocked from using this feature.”

So what was the post taken down by Facebook

Quite ironically, I titled it “Community Standards ng mga Kawatan” because it was a reaction to an incident earlier today. In the post, I criticized Facebook’s decision to take down a post by my friend Gang Badoy which was about the Duterte-Marcos compromise and immunity agreements.

Like Gang’s, my post included photos of the draft agreements, including the receipt from President Duterte’s counsel Salvador Panelo. (Gang’s post has since been restored after an online outcry.)

The attachments 

Here are the attachments to my post:

As you can see, the Duterte’s presidential legal counsel signed a letter officially acknowledging receipt of the draft documents from Marcos lawyer Oliver Lozano. These are public documents. and whose subject is of public interest.

Questions for Facebook

As of posting time, 11:16 pm, my account is still restricted.  I have filed a report, and informed colleagues and friends in media and internet-related organizations. Facebook has not responded to my messages in its Help channels.

Surely, Facebook would not begrudge us Filipinos the right to freely read, share and discuss public documents — especially one that sensationally proposes to grant immunity to one of the biggest plunderers in Philippine and world history.

To put it lightly, there could be something wrong in Facebook’s content moderation and flagging process. How would such a post, which contains a public document, be perceived by its moderators as violative of “Community Standards”? What is the criteria? Who flags, moderates and approves decisions such as taking down posts and restricting access? And what are the means a user could use to appeal decisions?

As a blogger and as a columnist, I think Facebook should take steps to improve its flagging and moderation process. The process should not censor political content (arbitrary take down of posts) and engage in subsequent punishment (thru the restriction of accounts).

Scrupulous groups in the Philippines could also be gaming its flagging and moderation process, like dispatching hundreds or thousands in order to flag a content they or their bosses don’t like to be seen on Facebook.

Back online!

After I published this blog post, I again checked my Facebook account and received this notice:

Thanks to friends who raised questions online, made calls, wrote emails and texted.

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