Halt sales of ‘text blast’ kit
The Philippines has ordered tech giants Facebook, Alibaba Lazada and Sea's Shopee to stop allowing sales of cellular equipment used for emergency messaging, after "text blasts" were used to promote a presidential election candidate.
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) ordered the platforms to appear before the agency on October 27 to explain why they should not be held liable for allowing sales of the equipment.
The NTC's order, made public on Tuesday, follows an investigation it ordered last week into an "emergency alert" text blast, typically used during natural disasters, that contained message of support for one of the presidential candidates.
Under local laws, the sale, manufacture and importation of equipment that can send a mass text message for free would require NTC approval.
The NTC has said the mobile text alerts must have come from illegal channels since the emergency Alert Short Message Service is used by disaster agencies.
Lazada Philippines has removed the products mentioned by the regulator and is committed to "strong action" against violators, a company spokesperson said in a statement.
"Our team does a daily manual sweep for product listings that violate existing policies and these are removed once identified," the spokesperson said.
Facebook said it will work with authorities to take down unlawful listings on its Marketplace platform.
"When we receive a report from the appropriate legal authority about unlawful content, we will review and take appropriate action," a spokesperson said.
Shopee Philippines and Sea did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Last week, whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before US Congress about the company's problems.
A leaked trove of documents revealed that Facebook purposely hid research about its platform's negative effects on mental health in teenagers. Haugen also claimed that the company stoked division by allowing disinformation on the platform to go unchecked.
This all came after a worldwide outage on October 4 that made Facebook and its family of apps inaccessible for hours.
But the platform's reputation has been crumbling for years and calls for internet regulations have been renewed.