Did Facebook help Duterte win the presidency?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s influence and power is not only confined within the United States, but apparently in the Philippines as well, a professor based in the United States said.

“Facebook placed staff in the offices of Rodrigo Duterte when he ran for president of the Philippines in 2016, even though Duterte ran on an explicit platform of vigilante violence and extrajudicial kills — a pledge he has kept since riding Facebook’s communicative power to victory,” Siva Vaidhyanathan, a professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia, wrote an opinion piece at UK’s The Guardian.

Aside from Duterte, Zuckerberg also “hugged” Indian prime minister Narendra Modi who ”stirr[ed] up Hindu nationalist statements, sentiments and crush[ed] the interest of Muslims,” he said.

“Zuckerberg has never expressed misgivings about that alliance, and Modi, like Duterte, rode Facebook and WhatsApp to victory his elections,” Vaidhyanathan said.

Vaidhyanathan is the author of the book, “Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy.”

Facebook is the top social media platform of Filipinos. In 2018, it has reached 42.6 million, making 97 percent of those who have an online presence through their Facebook accounts.

A 2017 Bloomberg article also reported that Facebook flew in three employees to hold training sessions with presidential candidates in the Philippines. Duterte’s campaign staff got training from the Facebook team, such as setting up a page and live streaming. But it was the social media groups of Duterte which had a more effective strategy — creating real and fake Facebook accounts, and compartmentalizing the messages based on geography and for OFWs.

No comment was released yet from Facebook and the Palace.

NBC News recently said the social media czar had a secret dinner at the White House in October with President trump. But Vaidhyanathan revealed that Zuckerberg was also close with President Obama during his eight-year presidency.

“Despite all the panic about Cambridge Analytica allegedly using Facebook user data to help Republican electoral efforts, Obama’s 2012 campaign also exported data on millions of voters and deployed them to target get-out-the-vote efforts,” he revealed.

Thus, Zuckerberg’s politics are issue-based and favor only the interests of Facebook, the media studies professor said.

Staff Report

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