SOCIAL media giant Facebook is in hot water after reports revealed that the social networking site sent out teams to train politicians around the globe—including President Rodrigo Duterte—to use the platform as a campaign tool.
In an MSNBC report, Duterte was among the global strongmen whose campaign teams were among the handful who received training from Facebook for their propaganda strategy, and later used the social network for its political leverage.
“Facebook is a global company and it was ground zero for this [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and Duterte playbook, long before Zuckerberg was playing naive about fake news,” MSNBC said in a Dec. 27 report.
A separate Bloomberg report, meanwhile, pointed out Duterte’s highly successful campaign to reach out to voters.
“[In] the Philippines, [Facebook] trained the campaign of Rodrigo Duterte, known for encouraging extrajudicial killings, in how to most effectively use the platform,” the report stressed.
Facebook, which claims that it is a “tool for democracy,” had previously denied allegations that it is involved in digital propaganda.
“Facebook has embedded itself in some of the globe’s most controversial political movements while resisting transparency,” the Bloomberg report said.
In January 2016, Facebook “flew in three employees who spent a week holding training session with candidates that include Duterte,” MSNBC reported.
This was roughly two months after Duterte—after repeated denials and pleas to stop coercing him to run—declared that he was indeed gunning for the top position.
“But giving tips to a few campaigns in constitutional democracy can be different in giving tips to this authoritarian Duterte,” an MSNBC host said.
Palace Spokesman Harry Roque defended the administration’s continued use of Facebook, saying anybody would have done the same way in utilizing its wide reach.
Roque likewise said that the President himself was a subject of “fake news,” amid allegations of extrajudicial killings being attributed to his administration.
“All candidates did so [use Facebook], unfortunately for his detractors, President Duterte appeared to have been the best candidate who utilized Facebook the most,” he said.
“Again, the Internet is the manifestation of the free marketplace of ideas and it should be made to flourish, as freedom of expression is responsible for freedom of thought and public opinion, which we know will fiscalize governments,” the spokesman added.