#HandsOffOurStudents trends as fake online profiles of university students, alumni surface

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 7)— Various universities around the country said Sunday they have received reports that bogus and empty social media accounts bearing the names of their respective students and alumni have been surfacing online.

It was Tug-ani, the official student publication of the University of the Philippines-Cebu, which first reported how several Facebook pages copied the usernames of its students. This came following the arrest last Friday of some students who joined an anti-terrorism bill protest in the area.

However, not all “ghost” accounts were reported in the Cebu area, as students and alumni of other UP campuses have flagged the same incident.

In a statement, the premier state university called on the members of the UP community to check their respective names and report suspicious accounts to Facebook’s data protection team.

It added that UP’s Data Protection Officer has also reached out to the National Privacy Commission to help students and alumni report the dummy accounts in their names.

The UP Office of the Student Regent also urged concerned parties to help one another in reporting suspicious accounts, but cautioned them to exercise restraint in doing so, given the possibility of having real-life accounts with same names.

“We are hoping that this is a glitch in the system only and can be resolved as soon as possible,” it added.

De La Salle University also reported a sudden surge of empty profiles which pose as members of the school’s community. It also urged students and alumni to “remain vigilant” and to not interact with or click any links associated with the suspicious accounts.

The University of Santo Tomas advised its community to “employ best practices” to keep their online accounts and data secure, through revising their respective privacy settings.

RedWire, an online school publication of the University of the East, said its students have also encountered bogus and blank profiles.

The hashtag #HandsOffOurStudents made rounds on Twitter earlier in the day, as netizens voiced out concerns over these fake profiles, which groups say came in light of the recent protests and backlash against the controversial anti-terrorism bill.

Netizens— including even celebrities and athletes alike— have expressed disapproval with the hasty passage of the controversial anti-terrorism measure, saying the proposed law may be used to target those who express dissent against the government.

Officials, however, earlier assured that citizens have nothing to worry about the bill, as there are several safeguards under the Constitution.

The Justice Department meanwhile said it will launch a probe into the matter. NPC said it is also monitoring the situation, assuring the agency has contacted the Facebook Philippines team to address the issue.