Facebook investigates surge of fake accounts in PH

Marje Pelayo   •   June 8, 2020   •   239

MANILA, Philippines — Netizens across the country expressed concern over cybersecurity risks and possible dangers posed by empty, fake accounts that startled the local Facebook community on Sunday (June 7).

The University of the Philippines (UP) first notified the public about the proliferation of dummy accounts initially targeted students and alumni of the University. 

Later on, the impersonation has allegedly expanded to include duplication of journalists’ personal accounts.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said it has already notified Facebook Philippines on the matter and is working closely with the National Privacy Commission (NPC) in addressing complaints and potential risks to privacy of the proliferation of impostor FB accounts.

“According to Ms. Clare Amador, Facebook Representative in the Philippines, they are already investigating this particular matter as well as other information on unauthorized FB accounts. Meanwhile, the Privacy Commissioner has instructed Facebook to report its significant findings as soon as it becomes available,” NPC Commissioner Raymund Liboro confirmed in a statement.

The DICT said it has instructed its Cybersecurity Bureau to coordinate with law enforcement agencies to provide technical assistance on information sharing and analysis needed to address the matter. 

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra also expressed concern about the issue.

“This gives me cause for worry. We don’t need false information at a time when we’re dealing with a serious public health crisis,” he said.

“I will immediately direct the DOJ Office of the Cybercrime to coordinate with the NBI and PNP Cybercrime units to promptly investigate the apparent proliferation of fake or dummy accounts on Facebook,” he assured.

The DICT urges the public to report impostor accounts to Facebook through http://facebook.com/help/report in order to help track the creators of dummy accounts.

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DICT seeks P46.6-B 2021 budget for PH digital transformation

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 14, 2020

The Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) is seeking the approval of its P46.6 billion budget for 2021.

In a statement, DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan II said the budget will be for the effective implementation of the department’s strategic programs towards digital transformation in the new normal.

Several of DICT’s project include, the Digital Connectivity and Access programs, particularly the National Broadband Program (NBP), the Free WiFi for All in Public Places and State Universities and Colleges Program, and the Government Emergency Communications System.

“Digital connectivity and access is the foundation of digital transformation. It is only with secure and reliable Internet connectivity for every Filipino can we implement programs and initiatives towards digitalization in various sectors of our society,” Honasan said.

The proposed budget for FY 2021 is significantly much higher than its current budget for FY 2020 which amounts only to around 6 Billion Pesos.

“The call for digital transformation has never been more urgent. We need all the resources to fast track the country’s digital transformation for us to better adapt to the new normal brought by the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to Honasan. –AAC

Big companies boycott Facebook

UNTV News   •   June 30, 2020

A long list of U.S. companies have pulled advertising from Facebook in support of a campaign that called out the social media giant for not doing enough to stop hate speech on its platforms.

Ice-cream maker Ben & Jerry’s, consumer conglomerate Unilever, and coffee chain Starbucks have nixed ads on the social media network.

And PepsiCo will do so as well, FOX Business News reported citing sources on Sunday (June 28).

The halt on PepsiCo’s advertising will run through July and August, the report said.

PepsiCo did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

Annually, Facebook generates $70 billion in advertising sales and about a quarter of it comes from big companies such as Unilever with the vast majority of its revenue derived from small businesses.

But the publicity around its hate speech policies have hurt its perception and stock.

On Friday (June 26), Facebook’s 8.3% decline in stock price wiped out $56 billion in market capitalization.

Responding to demands for more action, Facebook on Sunday acknowledged it has more work to do and is teaming up with civil rights groups and experts to develop more tools to fight hate speech.

Facebook said its investments in artificial intelligence have allowed it to find 90% of hate speech before users report it.

The boycott has accelerated to include other digital advertising platforms, such as Twitter. REUTERS

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DICT to launch 20 wifi sites in Basilan

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 29, 2020

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is set to launch 20 free wifi sites in Isabela and Lamitan in Basilan on Tuesday (June 30).

DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II cited the importance of connectivity and access especially while the country copes with the effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“It has become the lifeblood of our society, providing a sense of normalcy in our lives. And with that, it is your DICT’s duty to ensure the whole country are afforded this right, including the remotest part of the country. It is our duty to ensure the country safely transition to the new normal,” he said.

The following are the sites to be launched.

  1. DICT Basilan Provincial Office
  2. Basilan National High School
  3. Basilan Provincial Capitol
  4. Basilan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office
  5. Basilan Provincial Library
  6. Infantry Brigade101 Headquarters, Isabela City
  7. Isabela City Hall
  8. Isabela City Maritime Police
  9. Isabela City Port
  10. Isabela City Post Office
  11. Malamawi National High School
  12. 18th Infantry Battalion, Armed Forces of the Philippines Camp, Lamitan City
  13. Business Center, Lamitan City
  14. Datu Kalun Plaza, Lamitan City
  15. Digital Hub, Lamitan City
  16. Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, Lamitan City
  17. Lamitan City Hall
  18. Lamitan City Health Office
  19. Lamitan City Port
  20. Lamitan City Infirmary 

The wifi sites will provide internet access at no charge to users in the selected public places. AAC

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