MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has urged the Congress to pass bills that would regulate social media and hold companies accountable, after Meta’s allegedly slow response to their calls to take down e-sabong sites.
DILG spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, in a statement on Friday said that Congress should follow the lead of other countries who have already imposed laws holding social media accountable for the handling of user data.
“We call on Congress to follow the lead of other countries and pass legislation to regulate social media. Facebook must be held liable for any illegal content on their sites. They must be made to account for how it protects its user’s privacy and how it handles and safeguards user’s data. Facebook must have the duty to take care of their users, including protecting them from illegal and harmful content,” Malaya said.
“It appears to have dragged its feet on stopping illegal and harmful activities in its social media platform. In the race for profits, they should never put growth above and before the safety of its users,” he added.
According to the DILG official, they acknowledge that Facebook has already taken down illegal e-sabong or online cockfighting sites that have used the social media platform to continue operations.
He, however, said that Facebook only did this after they ‘exposed’ the company’s inaction on the issue.
“While this Department acknowledges Facebook’s take down of illegal e-sabong pages and accounts yesterday, its much delayed response to the request of Philippine authorities is emblematic of the culture that has embraced Meta Platforms, Inc,” Malaya said.
“Despite official requests and public appeals made by this Department and other government agencies, they ignored our requests for them to comply with Philippine laws and only acted belatedly when we exposed their inaction and neglect to the public,” he added.
Last Wednesday, DILG called on Meta to shut down the e-sabong sites on their site, following an order from President Rodrigo Duterte last May to stop the online cockfighting operations due to the dangers it brought — after several reports of families going bankrupt due to the game.
However, with many of the e-sabong sites still active, DILG warned that Facebook may be considered an ‘accessory to the crime’ if it does not block online cockfighting on its platform.
INQUIRER.net has sought the side of Meta’s representatives in the country but they have yet to respond as of posting time.