Twitter has suspended hundreds of accounts reportedly linked to supporters of Philippine presidential frontrunner Ferdinand Marcos Jr, which the social media giant said had violated its rules on manipulation and spam.
The son and namesake of the country’s former dictator is drawing support from a massive social media campaign seeking to get him elected in May, which critics say is attempting to rewrite the family’s history.
Twitter said it had reviewed the accounts and hashtags identified in a recent article by Philippine news site Rappler.
More than 300 accounts had been removed “for violating our platform manipulation and spam policy,” Twitter said in a statement sent to AFP on January 22.
Most of them had been taken down before the Rappler article was published on January 18 and an investigation was ongoing, it said.
Filipinos are among the world’s heaviest users of social media and the country has become a key battleground for fake news.
“With the Philippine elections taking place this May, we remain vigilant about identifying and eliminating suspected information campaigns targeting election conversations,” Twitter said.
Marcos Jr’s spokesman Vic Rodriguez said there was “no certainty” that all the suspended accounts belonged to supporters of the presidential hopeful.
Election victory for Marcos Jr would mark the ultimate political comeback for the family, which was chased into exile in the US after its patriarch’s humiliating downfall in 1986.
Marcos Sr and his wife Imelda were accused of massive corruption while in power.
Recent voter surveys show Marcos Jr holding a huge lead over his nearest rival and nemesis Leni Robredo, who is the incumbent vice president.
Rappler said Marcos Jr supporters were “looking to dominate Twitter” and that many of the accounts it investigated were created around the time he announced his bid for the presidency in October.
The accounts pushed the narrative that the Marcoses were “victims” of the 1986 revolt and their return to Malacanang presidential palace is “long overdue”, it added.
Twitter said sharing political content on an account or rallying people do so via hashtags was allowed, “unless the accounts are inauthentic, compensated or automated, which we see no clear evidence of in this case”.
On January 17, the social media giant said it was expanding a test feature that will allow users in Brazil, Spain and the Philippines to report misleading content.