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21 Jan, 2022 18:31

Twitter suspends accounts backing ex-dictator’s son

Platform disables hundreds of accounts that promoted the Philippine presidential election campaign of Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Twitter suspends accounts backing ex-dictator’s son

Twitter has shut down more than 300 accounts that the platform says were promoting Filipino presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the notorious dictator who was deposed in the country’s ‘People Power’ movement of 1986.

The tech giant announced the suspensions on Friday, saying the accounts had violated its policies on manipulation and spam. “We remain vigilant about identifying and eliminating suspected information campaigns targeting election conversations,” a Twitter representative said, adding that its investigation of suspicious accounts is ongoing.

The crackdown comes days after social media news outlet Rappler reported that Marcos supporters were attempting to dominate online conversation about the Philippine election race through accounts created over just a few months. Inauthentic users, such as automated or paid-for accounts, can be used to make a topic appear to be more popular than it really is.

Vic Rodriguez, chief of staff for Marcos, issued a statement commending Twitter for “keeping a close watch against platform manipulation, spam and other attempts to undermine the public conversation.” However, he added that it’s not certain that the suspended accounts belonged to supporters of Marcos.

The wealthy Marcos family remains politically powerful in the Philippines, despite the infamy surrounding the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos Sr., who ruled the country for more than two decades. The elder Marcos, who died in 1989, was accused of corruption and human rights abuses. His wife, Imelda, flaunted a lavish lifestyle, going on shopping sprees for art, jewelry and a shoe collection that reportedly grew to 3,000 pairs. And yet, evidencing the family’s enduring political influence, she served in the Philippine House of Representatives as recently as 2019, filling a seat previously held by her son Ferdinand.

The younger Marcos, known as ‘Bongbong,’ is currently the leading candidate in the race to succeed Rodrigo Duterte as president. His running mate is Sara Duterte-Carpio, daughter of the current president. Top rivals include current Vice President Leni Robredo, Manila Mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso and boxing hero Manny Pacquiao.

Marcos Jr., who ran unsuccessfully for vice president in 2016, cleared a hurdle earlier this week by overcoming a challenge to his eligibility to run for office. The Philippine election commission rejected a petition to block his candidacy because of a past tax conviction.