#HandsOffOurStudents trends as Filipinos call out fake accounts swarming Facebook
MANILA, Philippines – #HandsOffOurStudents is a call echoed by several netizens as suspicious fake accounts of students and alumni flooded Facebook on Sunday, June 7.
Seen by many as a scare tactic to silence critics of the administration, they slammed the creation of the accounts and called for the safety of the youth. By mid-afternoon, #HandsOffOurStudents is trending on Twitter in the Philippines with more than 20,000 tweets.
Various student groups had first flagged the existence of dummy accounts bearing the names of several University of the Philippines (UP) students and alumni. (READ: Users report duplicate, dummy Facebook accounts in PH)
Initially, they noticed duplicate accounts of the activists arrested during an anti-terrorism bill protest on Friday, June 5.
The proliferation of blank and duplicate accounts eventually covered not only UP students and alumni but also from other schools. This came days after the passage of the anti-terror bill that critics fear could be used to clamp down on Filipinos’ basic freedoms.
The UP Office of the Student Regent added that these dummy accounts are suspected to cause harm or spread false information online.
Netizens were baffled to find duplicate accounts under their name, urging others to stay vigilant and be wary of messages and threats coming from the dummy accounts.
I'm not even from UP or PUP pero bat may ganto?? San niyo gagamitin?? Para baliktarin niyo kami? Para hindi kami magsalita sa kapalpakan ng gobyerno?? #HandsOffOurStudents #JUNKTERRORBILLNOW #MassTestingNowPH pic.twitter.com/zgA2DqFoVn— sul #BLM || #JUNKTERRORBILLNOW (@tarantularawr) June 7, 2020
I’ve been seeing a lot of fake accounts surfacing under the names of students and activists which are probably a red-tagging scheme. These are my only fb accs. Any message and threat you get from my name but not from this account is not from me.#HandsOffOurStudents#ResistAsOne pic.twitter.com/RGyaIdHlCI— clarice | BLM (@iveronclarice) June 7, 2020
The loyalists/enablers' troll army is a real thing. What happened this day to PH activists is a reminder that we should work harder than ever.— spaghetti #JunkTerrorBill (@spaghettireyes_) June 7, 2020
This morning, seven Roland Reyes accounts surfaced on FB. Same thing happened to my friends in the collective.#HandsOffOurStudents pic.twitter.com/gS3F52eBiN
After UP Cebu Students, members of the Political Science Society are now being targeted by malicious online duplication of Facebook accounts, empty accounts copying personal information of our students.These are employed tactics to silent dissent. #HandsOffOurStudents pic.twitter.com/B9LWf44GsF— Osiris (@adenosine_SS) June 7, 2020
Others saw the proliferation of blank accounts as attacks on progressives and critics, saying that these could possibly be used to frame people as terrorists if the anti-terror bill is enacted into law. (READ: #JunkTerrorBill: Sign this petition to help uphold human rights)
With the anti-terror bill, people can be accused of inciting to terrorism through their speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems and banners. The bill will also authorize the arrest and detention, of anyone who expresses dissent to government.
TERRORIZING THE NON-TERRORISTS. Following the passage on third reading of the Anti-Terror Bill, activists and progressives are now being digitally attacked with dummy duplicate accounts.— Frank (@frankiesteinart) June 7, 2020
We will not be silenced.#JunkTerrorBill #ActivismIsNotTerrorism #HandsOffOurStudents pic.twitter.com/77K1NNt5pm
If you persist with your "only terrorists should be afraid of the ATB", well let me tell you that students are now victims of identity theft on Facebook, EVEN THOSE WHOM I KNOW ARE NOT VOCAL IN CRITICIZING THE GOVERNMENT!!!— mysterisko #OustDuterte (@_ilawdagitab) June 7, 2020
Everyone, not just the activists.#HandsOffOurStudents
Trolls using fake accounts to red-tag students and UP alumni. How long can you go?— Desiree Lois (@desireeloisss) June 7, 2020
What more can the government do to silence their critics? This isn’t just about UP and their students. This is about everyone who had the voice to criticise the gov’t.#HandsOffOurStudents
Many lambasted how efforts to quell criticism and dissent are prioritized over more important matters such as effective coronavirus response and mass testing.
Ito na ba yung pangmalakasang plano ng gobyerno? Gumawa ng duplicate accounts ng kahit sinong Filipino? Kung sana yung energy na inilaan niyo sa kagaguhang ito ay inilalaan niyo sa pag-conduct ng mass testing, eh di wala sana tayong problema.#HandsOffOurStudents#JunkTerrorBill— #ResistAsOne (@tintangdilaw) June 7, 2020
With attacks now targeting young students, netizens called on Filipinos to stay vigilant and urged others to continue speaking out despite attempts to intimidate them.
Grabeee the amount of caution we have to exercise just so we can air or thoughts on the gov is truly just nakakapagod sismars pero laban lang#ActivismIsNotTerrorism#HandsOffOurStudents#JUNKTERRORBILLNOW— Gaby D. Domanais #OUSTDUTERTENOW #MassTestingNowPh (@little_saumench) June 7, 2020
Here’s what other netizens have to say about the matter:#HandsOffOurStudents - Curated tweets by rapplerdotcom
With multiple reports of existing fake Facebook accounts, here's how you can report accounts pretending to be someone you know or someone that doesn't exist.