Liberal Youth supports the call of Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan for the Senate to conduct its own investigation regarding the sudden proliferation of doppelganger accounts on Facebook that take on the identities of numerous students, faculty, journalists, and other users. Such occurrences could pave the way for grave compromise to the identity, privacy, safety, and even the lives of our Filipino online community.
The sudden existence of doppelganger accounts started with the Facebook accounts of students from the University of the Philippines (UP) system, Ateneo De Manila University, De La Salle University , St. Louis University, and Polytechnic University of the Philippines. High school campuses were not exempted from this malicious activity as students and faculty of institutions such as Colegio San Agustin – Makati and St. Paul College Pasig have also reported the existence of these doppelganger accounts that were created with their students’ names.
The National Privacy Commission (NPC) assured the public that they had already begun coordinating with Facebook on the matter and had requested the social media giant to submit its findings to the NPC. Facebook has reported that they have already taken down an unspecified number of these accounts.
Reports have it that several users of the online platform have received several threats against their life and safety as well as threats of publishing content that could lead to the user’s arrest. Likewise, San Beda University and UP Cebu have also suffered attacks on their digital student platforms. Personal information controllers of said universities confirm that their databases have been breached and that someone has gained access to the privileged information of students therein.
These occurrences, against the backdrop of the recent approval of the Anti-Terror Bill, are gravely disconcerting because these have the potential to compromise the safety and livelihood of thousands of Filipino users of the online platform who use their voice to speak out against perceived injustices. These duplicate accounts can be used to publish illegal content that can be perceived by the authorities as having been made by the original user. This precedent can lead to the arrest of hundreds of unsuspecting users who have no knowledge of duplicate accounts created in their name and the content published in them.
The track record of the current administration in weaponizing social media to control narratives is far from unblemished. It is our earnest and most sincere hope that these recent actions do not form part of this administration’s malicious agenda. Such abhorrent possibility is unacceptable under any circumstances.
We call on our duly-elected Senators to intervene and begin its investigation on the recent occurrences. We hope that these supplement the Department of Justice’s investigation and serve as a check-and-balance measure.
We strongly urge the Duterte administration to stand by its sworn duty to safeguard the rights and safety of all of its citizens.