MANILA – Facebook’s and Instagram’s parent company Meta’s head of APAC Misinformation Policy Alice Budisatrijo told reporters their social media platforms remove election-related misinformation based on its voter interference policy at a virtual press brief last January 27.

“Certainly, the Philippine election is very high priority for us,” Budisatrijo said.

“We have teams that are dedicated in enforcing our policy and making sure that any threat and risk in the Philippines are mitigated,” she added, noting vote-buying, selling and inciting illegal participation in the national elections are not allowed on Facebook.

In a report by ABS-CBN News, Meta said a new notification feature where a “warning” appears when clicking the follow button will be applied to deter people from following pages posting misinformation.

The same feature will be implemented on Instagram for accounts that repeatedly share misinformation, the company said.

As part of Meta’s misinformation drive, the following types of misinformation are removed on Facebook: buying and selling of votes, statements advocating or providing instructions or showing explicit intent to illegally participate in the voting process including instructions on how to vote twice, claiming that participation in the election could result in contracting COVID-19 and misinformation about crucial facts such as dates, location, time, method of voting, registration, who is qualified to vote, whether a vote will be counted and what information and materials must be provided to vote as well as whether or not a candidate is running.

“These are the things that we can check with the proper authorities and we will remove when someone tries to mislead other people using these,” Budisatrijo said.

“Other misinformation can also be removed when backed with more data,” she added, including “calls for coordinated interference that could affect someone’s ability to participate in the election, content stating that voting participation may or will result in law enforcement consequences and calls to monitor election activity when combined with signals of violence.”

In another report by ONE News, Meta said it will reduce the visibility of disinformation that does not fall under those actionable with removal while also imposing certain penalties on those who share it.

During the briefing, Budisatrijo assured that Meta works with professional fact-checkers to flag content that is false information.

“We’re constantly working to find and stop these coordinated campaigns that seek to manipulate public debate,” she said.

She also reiterated Meta’s explanation on why they do not remove all content flagged as misinformation.

“As a private company, we should not be the arbiter of truth and we don’t think that any single actor should be. If we require people to only post the truth on Facebook, then we will have to know all the truth in the world, which is obviously impossible,” Budisatrijo said.

“Not all information is strictly true or false. There can be degrees of truth or opinions of what is true. That’s why we believe that by giving people more information from the actual experts on fact-checking, we actually serve to educate people about various information that are spreading on our platforms,” she added.

Budisatrijo said Meta will also provide additional information by giving posts more context “so they can decide what to read, trust and share.”

“We require additional context, because in cases that there are some threats in a polling station, and someone is trying to warn others, then that may be allowed, so we need more information,” she said.

Office of the VP, Meta denied meeting to remove Pro-Marcos accounts

In another report by ONE News, Facebook owner Meta Platforms and the Office of Vice-president Leni Robredo through spokesperson Barry Gutierrez denied meeting for their supposed plan to take down accounts supporting presidential aspirant and former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Earlier, suspended lawyer and Senate aspirant Larry Gadon claimed that Robredo met with Facebook officials “to discuss the removal or suspension of accounts supporting Marcos.”

Gadon claimed he received a text message from an unnamed source who is an “insider” in Facebook of the plan but did not provide other proof to back it.

“Not true,” Gutierrez said.

In a separate statement on January 27, a spokesperson from Meta said no one from their team recently met with Robredo and her team or made any agreement to remove political content from its platform.

“We do not arbitrarily censor peaceful political speech on Facebook, and we will only remove content if they violate our Community Standards,” the Meta spokesperson said.

“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. We share details of our compliance with these requests in our twice-yearly Transparency Report,” it added.