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Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to Facebook: What is your purpose here in my country; netizens react to possible ban

President Rodrigo Duterte did not have nice things to say to the social media giant after it took down dozens of pro-government pages known to spread fake news.

It appears that President Rodrigo Duterte is looking to go after another giant that doesn’t quite agree with his administration’s views.

In a recorded broadcast of his latest meeting with the Inter-agency Task Force for COVID-19, Duterte threatened to “ban” Facebook after learning of the social media giant’s actions against pages that express support for his administration.

In the speech, he lashed out at the social media giant for “believing the lies of the Left”, referring to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

He called out Facebook for taking down pages owned and operated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, specifically the cause-oriented page Hands Off Our Children, a page that seeks to spread information to counter communist recruiters in schools and universities.

He also said “we are at war”, referring to the country’s longstanding battle against the armed members of the CPP, the New People’s Army.

Netizens’ reactions to Duterte’s threat to ban the social media giant were varied.

There are those who mocked the President, saying Facebook was largely responsible for getting him to Malacañang—and keeping his support group, collectively called the Duterte Diehard Supporters or DDS, alive.

Some looked at the President’s “empty” threat on banning the social media giant as a power play of sorts—similar to how he kicks out erring government officials.

Other netizens took a more logical approach, recounting how Facebook has been taking down so-called “troll farms” for years.

Some were okay with Facebook being banned, saying it fuels the country’s “political circus”.

Others still were in favor of the President’s pronouncements because they agree with his message of using Facebook to spread his administration’s “advocacies”—specifically against communist recruitment.

People have also pointed out how nearly every Filipino is on Facebook, and that most Filipinos now rely on the social media site to make a living, either through streaming games or selling products and services.

For its part, Malacañang has said the President’s threat shouldn’t be taken as an actual threat.

In a televised press conference, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that the President merely wanted to get into talks with Facebook on censoring government propaganda.

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