Malacañang on Wednesday said it respected social media giant Facebook’s move to take down accounts—including support pages for Sara Duterte-Carpio’s possible presidential bid—propagating misleading information.

“Facebook’s recent action of taking down over 100 fake accounts is a matter we leave to the sound judgment and discretion of the popular global social networking company,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement.

As of Sept. 23, a total of 155 Facebook accounts, 11 pages and nine groups have been removed from the social media platform for “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

Facebook’s head of security policy Nathaniel Gleicher said the company had identified “several clusters of connected activity” that relied on fake accounts posing as fake citizens of target countries to post spam in groups, amplify their own content, and comment on other posts about naval activity in the South China Sea.

Efforts to weed out the spam accounts were ongoing, he added.

The networks’ pages posted about the following topics: 

  • Beijing’s interests in the South China Sea;
  • Hong Kong;
  • content supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte and Sarah Duterte’s potential run in the 2022 Presidential election;
  • criticism of Rappler
  • issues relevant to the overseas Filipino workers; 
  • praise and criticism of China. 
  • content both in support of and against US presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

“This campaign took operational security steps to conceal their identity and location including through the use of VPNs (virtual private networks). Some of this network’s pages were previously removed for violating our inauthentic behavior and spam policies,” he said.

Some 57 Philippine-originated Facebook accounts, 31 pages and 20 Instagram accounts were also removed for violating policies against foreign or government interference which coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign or government entity. 

The accounts posted in Filipino and English about local news and events including domestic politics, military activities against terrorism, the anti-terrorism bill, criticism of communism, youth activists and opposition, the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

Roque said the Duterte administration was one with the Filipino people in “advocating the truth and dismissing disinformation, lies or hatred.”

“We hope the social media giant would exercise prudence in all its actions to remove any doubt of bias given its power, influence and reach,” he said. John Ezekiel J. Hirro