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Defensor claims Facebook blocked him after COVID-19 ‘analysis’


Anakalusugan Party-list Representative Mike Defensor on Monday hit social media giant Facebook after the latter allegedly blocked his two accounts over his "analysis" on reports of COVID-19 data.

"Facebook just blocked me for giving analysis on the Covid update report posted (on) the internet," Defensor told the media, sharing screenshots of a notification from Facebook that his page is "at risk of being unpublished" due to violations of the social media's community standards.

Defensor said his Anakalusugan Facebook page and personal page were both "blocked" by  Facebook.

With this, the lawmaker said he will file a resolution to probe Facebook's policies on censorship in social media user's posts.

"I think (it's) about time that we investigate the policies on censorship of Facebook," he said.

Asked about his supposed analysis, Defensor said he was citing opinions based on "facts."

"Vaccination and 7-day average of COVID-19 cases of the United Kingdom, Israel, United States, and Uttar Pradesh India," Defensor, who is not a health professional, said when asked about the content of his post that was flagged by Facebook.

"There's a (difference) between fake news and expressing your opinion based on facts," he further said.

Based on Defensor's post, which was flagged by Facebook, the lawmaker compared vaccination of data between US, Israel, UK and Uttar Pradesh, India.

Defensor questioned how average daily cases of the town in India remained low despite low vaccines administered. He also linked the low cases to the use of anti-parasitic drug ivermectin.

US, Israel, and UK  have high numbers of daily coronavirus cases, he also pointed out.

"Ang tanong, bakit ganun? Ang Uttar Pradesh ay isang mahirap na region sa India na nauna at patuloy na umiinom ng Ivermectin. Masdan na kahit mababa ang vaccination nila ay mababa ang nagkakasakit sa COVID," the lawmaker claimed in his "analysis."

(The question is why did this happen? Uttar Pradesh is one of the poorest regions in India which first used and continuously used ivermectin. See that their cases are low despite low vaccination.)

Asked by reporters if there are studies to support his claim, Defensor said: "Wala akong nakita based on 4 countries I cited but there's an epidemiologic analyses on the FLCCC  (Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance) website of other countries which last I checked included the Philippines."

Facebook  reacts

Facebook did not directly react on Defensor's concerns but the social media giant featured community standards for its users.

Under the standards, Facebook deletes "misinformation when public health authorities conclude that the information is false and likely to contribute to imminent violence or physical harm."

"We don’t allow false claims about how to cure or prevent COVID-19 on Facebook," it added.

They also remove false information on claims that for the average person, something can guarantee prevention from getting COVID-19 or can guarantee recovery from COVID-19 before such prevention was even approved. This includes consumer items, medical or herbal remedies and external remedies for the outer body or skin.

"Accounts that repeatedly violate our Community Standards may face stronger enforcement action including restrictions on posting, and permanent disablement," said Facebook.

Defensor is one of the lawmakers who pushed for the use of anti-parasitic drug ivermectin for treatment of COVID-19 patients.

The World Health Organization and even ivermectin manufacturer Merck had said there is no sufficient evidence to support the anti-parasitic use as a COVID-19 treatment. 

The Department of Health also previously issued a statement, citing that a new study cited that ivermectin is not a viable option to treat COVID-19.—LDF, GMA News

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