Usec. Jonathan Malaya
While this Department acknowledges Facebook’s take down of illegal e-sabong pages and accounts yesterday, its much delayed response to the request of Philippine authorities is emblematic of the culture that has embraced Meta Platforms, Inc. Despite official requests and public appeals made by this Department and other government agencies, they ignored our requests for them to comply with Philippine laws and only acted belatedly when we exposed their inaction and neglect to the public.
It appears to have dragged its feet on stopping illegal and harmful activities in its social media platform. In the race for profits, they should never put growth above and before the safety of its users.
The Philippines is currently considered the social media capital of the world by amount of use. Eighty (80) million people use social media on average about four (4) hours a day. Our country is one of Facebook’s biggest markets, accounting for 93% of the country’s social media market share. Since it dominates the PH market, it generates considerable profits especially in the last national and local elections.
Therefore, Facebook and other technology companies have to be made responsible and accountable for stopping illegal activities – like e-sabong and child abuse – especially on live streaming and video call platforms. Up to now, online predators increasingly use live-stream because most tech companies have not done enough to detect or stop this type of abuse. As a business entity operating in the Philippines, Facebook should never allow itself to be a venue or a tool for illegal activity. Despite being banned, it inexplicably allowed e-sabong in its platform.
We call on Congress to follow the lead of other countries and pass legislation to regulate social media. Facebook must be held liable for any illegal content on their sites. They must be made to account for how it protect its user’s privacy and how it handles and safeguards user’s data. Facebook must have the duty to take care of their users, including protecting them from illegal and harmful content.
The Philippines must be vigilant in enforcing our laws without fear or favor even if it involves a social media giant. We must build a safe and healthy online environment removing content that is illegal and harmful to the general public.