Several Facebook (FB) pages circulated a false graphic claiming Vice President and presidential candidate Leni Robredo met with senior officials of the company to suspend accounts owned by supporters of rival candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
The sourceless graphic shows a screenshot of a text message, with the recipients’ names redacted, that read:
“sir, Leni team had a meeting with FB senior officials, including Philippine public policy manager Chris Kuzhuppilly, head of politics and government outreach Roy Tan and Kylie Mooney. They plan to suspend massive BBM supporters’ accounts one week before campaign period starts. A middle man helping Leni team reach to FB is closely connected with US.”
This is not true. Meta, FB’s parent company, denied the claim.
“No one from Meta has recently met with the Vice President or her team or made any agreement to remove political content from our platforms,” Meta said in an emailed statement to VERA Files Fact Check.
The company further stressed that it “does not arbitrarily censor peaceful political speech on Facebook” and only removes posts or accounts that violate community guidelines.
“We have a global process for government requests to remove or restrict content. That process is the same in the Philippines as every other country around the world,” Meta clarified.
The Office of the Vice President, through spokesperson Barry Gutierrez, also dismissed the allegation.
The erroneous graphic that has been circulating emerged as early as Jan. 26, published by the FB page Coach Jarret (created on May 22, 2019), which wrote the hashtag #LENITUNAYNADIKTADOR (#LeniRealDictator) in its caption. It was also shared by singer Richard Poon on his official FB page.
The said graphic appeared four days after Robredo said, in an interview with broadcast journalist Jessica Soho aired on Jan. 22, that “big social media companies” should be held accountable for letting “lies” proliferate on their platforms. The screenshot continued to circulate this February.
Apart from Coach Jarret and Richard Poon, the page Ferdinand Edralin Marcos the Greatest President of the Philippines (created on March 14, 2021), likewise published this false text message. The three posts have collectively garnered more than 3,100 reactions, 1,510 comments, and 1,250 shares.
At least 66 FB pages and groups have shared the graphic and reached more than 6,932 interactions according to social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle.