Kilusang Mayo Uno says Facebook page taken down without warning

MANILA, Philippines — The Facebook account of Kilusang Mayo Uno has been removed from the social media platform without warning, the labor group said Thursday, adding the accounts of the page’s administrators have also been locked.

It said that prior to the removal of its account, KMU posts related to Jose Maria Sison — the founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines and who passed away in the Netherlands on Dec. 16, 2022 — were taken down by Facebook for violating Community Standards. 

“There was no advisory from Facebook about the shutdown of the KMU FB page,” the group said in its statement in Filipino. It said that the Facebook pages of youth group Anakbayan and of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan have also been taken off the platform.

KMU said that its Facebook page is a primary source for news and information on workers and workers’ issues and that the takedown is a “direct attack on workers’ rights to free expression.” It also said the takedown is tantamount to gagging workers.

“The welfare of Filipino workers is already being given so little attention and now their rights are being directly attacked,” the group said.

Facebook’s content enforcement policies has reached out to a Meta representative for comment but according to a post on Facebook community standards, the platform “[does] not allow organizations or individuals that proclaim a violent mission or are engaged in violence to have a presence on Facebook.”  

Meta includes “entities that engage in serious offline harms — including organizing or advocating for violence against civilians” in its Tier 1 of content enforcement.

KMU is a legal labor organization that the government’s anti-communist task force has labeled as a communist front, an accusation often made against activists, organizers, journalists and human rights defenders and that has repeatedly been called out as a dangerous practice.

READ: CHR warns of grave implications of red-tagging groups

Activist and progressive groups in December recognized Sison for his contrbution to “the struggle for real liberation and democracy.” In a report by alternative news website Bulatlat, KMU is quoted as saying the labor group “[treats] comrade Joma as a worker… he devoted himself to the proletarian class.”

“He aroused, organized and lived with the workers. He was indulged in the pickets, discussions and everyday struggles of the laborers,” KMU also said.

Meta said on its post on community standards that, under its content moderation policies, “[w]e remove praise, substantive support and representation of Tier 1 entities as well as their leaders, founders or prominent members.”

KMU said that the removal of its Facebook account happened while pages and official accounts “that blatantly spread ‘fake news’, historical distortion, harassment and intimidation” are still on the platform.

ILO mission this month

KMU said that the removal of its account happened as workers are preparing for a High Level Tripartite Mission by the International Labor Organization this month and while workers’ groups are collating reports of attacks on their rights of assembly and to organize, form unions and express their grievances.

“This incident just shows how intense the attacks of the state, working with big business, on workers are. Even the digital rights of workers are being violated,” it said. — Jonathan de Santos