Pangilinan: Proactive immediate takedown of abusive behavior online

March 9, 2021

INSTEAD of simply relying on users’ reports, social media sites should be able to immediately takedown cases of sexual abuse and exploitation online, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Tuesday.

“There should be a more proactive response rather than just rely on reports. The difficulty with reporting as was earlier manifested in some of the experiences, it would take several months. But if there is a proactive immediate takedown response from Google and all other media platforms, it would be better,” Pangilinan said.

“Part of prevention is immediate takedown because it prevents the spread, prevent the potentially billions who would have access to that information that is private to one individual,” he said.

The Senate convened the Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality to discuss several measures addressing online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC) and electronic violence against women (E-VAW).

Present in the hearing are representatives of social media sites Facebook and Google, among others, who reported the safety measures in place on their websites to prevent OSAEC and E-VAW.

Facebook, for its part, said it has removed 5.4 million pieces of child nudity and sexual exploitation from their platform, with 98.8% of it removed even before reporting.

Facebook reportedly has 35,000 employees working on safety and security, with over 15,000 content reviewers to ensure prompt response to reports.

According to Google, 94% or 8.8 million of videos taken down on their platforms were machine-detected. No data focused on the Philippines is yet available.

Pangilinan, however, said that reports on the ground contradict these social media policies.

“The information we are receiving on the ground is that as soon as one is taken down, another one is just created and then the technology of bots and inauthentic behavior and are able to rise,” Pangilinan said.

“The term is immediate takedown. And relying on reporting alone I think is less than ideal… Relying on the citizens to be vigilant is great because they ought to be vigilant. But the technology out there is sometimes just too powerful and too overwhelming for one or two or more individuals to respond effectively,” he said.

Pangilinan, in his opening statement, said that unless social media sites act aggressively to permanently address the criminal acts online using their platforms, they are already party to the crime.

In a 2020 study by the International Justice Mission, the Philippines has been identified as the global hotspot for online sexual exploitation of children.

Unicef has also dubbed the Philippines as the global epicenter of live-stream sexual abuse trade and number one global source of child pornography.