Statement: Journalists concerned over arbitrary takedown of Facebook posts

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We, alternative media members of AlterMidya, express our concern over Facebook’s blocking of certain accounts of journalists, artists and activists apparently because they shared posts criticizing the Marcos family and the plans to move the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ remains to the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

The post that journalists such as Nonoy Espina, Kenneth Guda, Inday Espina-Varona and others shared was a post by fellow journalist Ed Lingao about the Marcoses. This clearly does not violate Facebook standards, as Facebook itself admitted when it reinstated Lingao’s post and told him that it committed a mistake in censoring his post.

The social networking site also took down the account of the Economic Journalists of the Philippines (EJAP) a day after it posted a statement criticizing incoming Pres. Duterte’s statements on the killing of journalists. It restored the account as a page three days later, explaining that the group’s profile violated its authenticity policies. In the case of Varona, Facebook said that the filtering and blocking of some of her posts was due to the site’s automated security feature. Several netizens have also complained of deleted posts about comments against the incoming president. Facebook has denied reports that it is suppressing political content in the Philippines.

That Facebook can arbitrarily block users from posting, take down and restore posts and accounts is disturbing. We are concerned that Facebook can summarily censor certain posts, especially those of a political or journalistic nature, without due process and apparently upon the goading of pro-Marcos and pro-Duterte supporters or trolls.

It is precisely in defense of our civil right to free expression that we express this concern. Alternative voices like ours, often stifled by the corporate-driven media industry, often turn to social media networks like Facebook to get our message across. We hope Facebook will review its recent actions and dispel our concerns of censorship. It is also hoped that Facebook will ensure that its policies protect free expression and press freedom.

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