DOJ probes over 300 ghost FB accounts

June 17, 2020

The government has started investigating the sudden proliferation of  dummy or 'ghosts' accounts in popular social media platform Facebook as complaints from legitimate users snowballed.

In a statement, Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete, the concurrent spokesman of the Department of Justice, disclosed that investigation is now underway in probing 300 of these spurious Facebook accounts.

"The contents of the accounts have already been preserved upon the request of our law enforcers. An inter-agency task force consisting of NPC (National Ptivacy Commission), DICT (Department of Information and Communications Technology), and DOJ has been created to investigate the matter. Investigation is currently ongoing. We have received 198 reports involving over 300 accounts," Perete said.

Perete stressed that people behind these 'ghosts accounts' may face charges for computer-related identity theft defined and punished under Sec. 4 (b)(3) of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, among other possible violations.

"Liability, including criminal penalties, is imposed upon those who violate this prohibition. The DOJ Office of Cybercrime is not only aware of this prohibition, it will assiduously uphold the law that protects the privacy of citizens," he added.

Earlier, the government vowed to pursue all possible leads in bringing to justice the culprits behind the sudden proliferation of dummy accounts in Facebook.

This as Facebook users recently reported duplicate accounts made in their name. It was students from Cebu schools including University of the Philippines Cebu, University of San Carlos, and San Jose Recoletos who first reported the dummy accounts.

However, it turned out that dummy Facebook accounts were also reported even in some other parts of the country, targeting not only those critical of the government but ordinary citizens as well.

Dummy accounts were also reported by Facebook users in Metro Manila, Iloilo, Dumaguete, and Cagayan de Oro City, among other areas.

The hashtag #HandsOffOurStudents trended on Twitter following reports that many of those affected were students of UP.

While initially reported as an attack targeting UP students and alumni, users not affiliated with the university also took note of dummy or similar accounts bearing their names.#