Red-tagged CDO journalist files complaint vs Facebook

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 06 May) —  Journalist Leonardo Vicente “Cong” Corrales on Friday filed a complaint before the National Privacy Commission against Meta, owner of social network Facebook, for not giving him access to information on those who have been harassing him and his family on its platform from 2019 to 2021. 

Corrales , editor-in-chief of the Cagayan de Oro City-based Mindanao Gold Star Daily, assisted by lawyer Antonio La Viña, a fellow Kagay-anon, alleged that Meta “failed to observe my right to access”  information on those behind the Facebook accounts that red-tagged him, his family and other journalists.

The case, which is unprecedented, “would exact accountability from social media platforms,” said La Viña, who is also lead convenor of the Movement against Disinformation (MAD). 

La Viña said Corrales has been red-tagged so many times that he is considered “the most red-tagged journalist in Mindanao.”

Journalist Leonardo Vicente “Cong” Corrales, editor in chief of the Cagayan de Oro City-based Mindanao GoldStar Daily (center) is flanked by his lawyers and National Union of Journalists of the Philippines chair Jonathan de Santos (right) after filing his complaint against Meta’s Facebook at the National Privacy Commission in Manila on Friday, May 5, 2023. Photo courtesy of Movement Against Disinformation

“This is unprecedented and important,” Carlos Conde of the Human Rights Watch, said after noting that this is the first case filed by a journalist against Facebook.

Conde said “red-tagging also known as red-baiting is used in the government campaign against critical activists, journalists and politicians.”

According to La Viña, many of his clients have also been red-tagged but could not file complaints because they could not identify the perpetrators who hide behind fake Facebook names and accounts.

Lawyer Rico Domingo, MAD’s chairman of the board, said Corrales has already complained to Meta several times after he was harassed online starting in 2019.

Cong Corrales, editor in chief of Mindanao GoldStar Daily , belts out a song at Quirido Bistro in Quezon City on Friday night, May 5, 2023, during the Press Freedom Fair organized by media organizations. Photo by ROWENA CARRANZA PARAAN

Meta, in its February 16, 2023 reply to a letter from Corrales, said it had taken down the red-tagging posts “but said it needed legal processes to comply with the request for information,” Domingo said.

He said Corrales is seeking legal remedy under Sec. 16 of the Data Privacy Act of 2012 or RA 10173  that says “a data subject has the right to reasonable access, upon demand, of the names and addresses of the recipients of his personal information.”

“This will benefit other journalists and truth-tellers who have been red-tagged. We are confident that we have a strong basis for this case,” said Domingo. 

The National Privacy Commission, where the complaint has been lodged, is the country’s privacy watchdog. It is an independent body mandated to administer and implement the Data Privacy Act of 2012, and to monitor and ensure compliance of the country with international standards set for data protection

In a statement on Friday, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) lauded the complaint filed by Corrales as “an important step” to find out the identities of those who red-tagged him and other journalists in the country.

“We hope that eventually we can hold them accountable in court,” the NUJP said. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)