Manila, Philippines — Numerous suspicious, and blank accounts using names of outspoken Philippine administration protesters proliferated on social media, Sunday, amid the protest against the controversial push of anti-terror bill in the country.
Some students, faculty, and alumni of The University of the Philippines (UP) who are critical of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte received duplicate, yet empty profile accounts that boomed on major social media sites including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
The said premier state university then called on the whole school community to check their respective profiles and report immediately suspicious accounts to the data protection team.
“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,” University of the Philippines Office of the Student Regent said on a statement on Facebook.
The UP College of Mass Communication also reported the stealing of identities that are known to be critical of the administration.
“Blank Facebook accounts are being created using their names. Those who are critical of the government are the usual targets,” the college said in a statement.
The university reached the Philippine National Privacy Commission on reporting blank, dummy accounts.
Other real accounts are already receiving friend requests, with threats from blank accounts saying, “you created online protest before, and so all of you will vanish soon.”
Over the week, the Anti-terror bill became the talk of the town, gaining many criticisms on some of its provisions, and believing that the bill would be used against critics of Mr. Duterte or the administration.
According to some journalists, this threat is very suspicious as it happened just after a series of protests in different UP campuses.
On Friday, June 5, seven protesters, and a bystander were arrested by police officers in Cebu City during the rally against the new anti-terrorism bill in front of the University of the Philippines Cebu campus, as they allegedly violated the general community quarantine guidelines.
Police filed a criminal complaint against them, for allegedly violating Republic Act 11332, or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.
(STANLEY BUENAFE GAJETE)