Twitter Suspends Accounts Defending President Duterte’s Response to COVID-19

Social media site Twitter has suspended “hundreds of accounts” which used various hashtags in defense or in support of President Rodrigo Duterte’s response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

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According to the Washington Post, the accounts were found to be in violation of Twitter’s platform manipulation and spam policies. The violations include posting duplicate content across multiple accounts, creating duplicate or multiple accounts, and sending large numbers of unsolicited replies or mentions.

As the Philippine government tackles the COVID-19 pandemic netizens have been closely monitoring their efforts on different social media sites. Twitter, in particular, has been a platform for users to voice their opinions on the government’s response.

Last April 1, #OustDuterte became a worldwide trending topic. The following day, #IStandWithThePresident and #YesToABSCBNShutdown trended in the Philippines.

However, many of the accounts tweeting support were discerned to have “suspicious elements” such as bot-like numbers on Twitter handles, few followers and new accounts.

Twitter’s policies on platform manipulation state that the site is not to be used for content “intended to artificially amplify or suppress information or engage in behavior that manipulates or disrupts people’s experience.”

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