Selective amnesia

It is not a secret that the Anti-Terrorism Council, which CHR is a part of, has designated Sison as a ‘terrorist individual’ while the CPP-NDF-NPA were declared terrorist organizations.

When Meta Platforms, Inc. or Meta, formerly named Facebook, Inc., took down more than 400 Facebook accounts and pages of so-called hacktivists, and a network of groups linked to the New People’s Army a month before the 2022 elections, it was only adhering to its Community Standards by protecting itself from “any and all forms of infiltration and exploitation by any terrorist individual and organization.”

This, according to Facebook Threat Disruption Director David Agranovich was the product of a new policy implemented in the Philippines against groups and networks that amplify the harmful behavior of their member accounts.

As expected, the Communist Party of the Philippines, through its mouthpiece Marco Valbuena, wasted no time and lashed back saying Meta’s move was “hypocritical” as it allowed posts proliferating red-tagging and violence.

Fast forward to early January, Meta’s ‘purging’ hit on the Facebook accounts of militant Kilusang Mayo Uno, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, and Anakbayan which have been reportedly removed, and the accounts of administrators locked.

The prelude was the groups’ posts related to the death of CPP founding chair Jose Maria Sison on 16 December 2022 which were taken down by the social media giant for violating Community Standards.

This time, it was the Commission on Human Rights that came to the defense of the militant groups.

The CHR may have forgotten that its mandate is to protect the rights of Filipinos. It failed to exercise enough prudence to check the Facebook community guidelines such that the latter only acted appropriately within the bounds of its operating procedures — no rights violated nor any freedom of speech and expression curtailed.

Clearly, Facebook’s community guidelines do not allow praising dangerous individuals and organizations on its platform.

“In an effort to prevent and disrupt real-world harm, we do not allow organizations or individuals that proclaim a violent mission or are engaged in violence to have a presence on Facebook. We assess these entities based on their behavior both online and offline, most significantly, their ties to violence. Under this policy, we designate individuals, organizations, and networks of people. These designations are divided into three tiers that indicate the level of content enforcement, with Tier 1 resulting in the most extensive enforcement because we believe these entities have the most direct ties to offline harm,” its guidelines read.

As a social networking and social media platform, Facebook has a moral obligation and responsibility to protect its users and clients from dangerous entities and terrorists.

As it advocates peace and the free exchange of ideas, Facebook should not be exploited by any terrorist organization for radicalization and proliferation of terrorist-related propaganda.

Facebook’s strict adherence to its Community Guidelines is not censorship. And the freedoms of speech and expression are never absolute.

“In our country, our laws do not allow, support, and tolerate any form of material or moral support to any terrorist individual and organization. The CHR must know that the respect for human rights does not include advocating, supporting, and tolerating communist terrorist groups, organizations, and individuals,” a legal expert said.

It is not a secret that the Anti-Terrorism Council, which CHR is a part of, has designated Sison as a ‘terrorist individual’ while the CPP-NPA-NDF were declared terrorist organizations.

The CHR should also know that Facebook has to remove any page praising Sison owing to his inclusion on the US Office of Foreign Assets Control list.

Notably, Sison, at the International Center in Brussels, Belgium on 4 March 1987, proudly proclaimed BAYAN, KMU, among others, as part of the communist groups’ democratic forces in advancing their armed struggle.

Whether it is a case of “selective amnesia”, the fact stands that we should keep our social media platforms a place where peace and free expression of ideas exist, free from violence and hatred.


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