‘Groupie’ of the Year: The Facebook Dragnet

Singing along to “I’m easy, easy as Sunday morning,” I spot my name in a comment made by poet/author Susan Lara. Artist Aba Lluch Dalena had complained that a group called “We Support Chief Justice Corona and the Rule of Law” included her as member without permission. Susan checked, saw the profiles of many friends, and decided to inform us.

A few minutes later, I spot the post of brother, Nonoy Espina. It was a screenshot, with my meowing scarredcat image on the upper left side, with friends and Facebook acquaintances all around.  His intro note to the screenshot:

“…ng pinindot ko ang ‘About’ ito ang lumantad, kasama na si Marco Valbuena na kilala sa media na tagapagsalita ng CPP at ang kapatid ko na alam ko’ng hinding-hindi sasali dito. Di ko na sinilip kung nandyan din ako. At andyan din ang mga umano’y admin ng grupo. ‘Langya, wala naman sanang ganyanan.”

In the “About” section are a host of people — 14, 020 as of this writing. Many of them are my friends, many of them definitely opposed to the Chief Justice. Of course, I also saw other friends who support the beleaguered magistrate. I won’t give the Who’s Who of contending sides here. Those of you who read news and blogs probably know who they are.

Here’s the screen shot showing my Facebook profile photo.

And here are the administrators of the Group. Though, frankly, I think these are false identities. If you’re real, give me a call, girls!

I love my brother for saying, “at ang kapatid ko na alam kong hinding-hindi sasali dito.” I can imagine Nonoy muttering into a cup of coffee: yeah, over her dead body. I don’t know if Aba’s complaint had anything to do with her position on the Chief Justice. It’s probably a matter of principle. It’s never nice to be tagged to any part of social, political or religious divides without your say so.

True, the group is an “open” group — anyone can join. And I do know that many pro-Corona folk join anti-Corona groups (and vice versa) and start flaming each other.

As Philippines Graphic editor-in chief, Joel Pablo Salud, notes:

“…apparently, in FB, any group can include you into their little huddle even without your consent. Yesterday i found out I was a member of the same group. There’s an icon on the left you can tap to leave the group. Watch out for groups that include you without prior permission. Check your list from time to time.”

And so I did, with some idea of what lay in wait. And now, it’s official. I can compete for the “Groupie of the Year” award. Over a hundred, closer to 2oo hundred groups.

I see my profile included in pro-Corona and anti-Corona groups, pro-Pinoy and anti-Pinoy groups.

  There’s the Negrenses for Corona Removal.

There’s the 2M Yellow NoyPis, an offshoot of the election-season BSAIII fan-page that saw its huge membership “stolen” by certain communications officials of the Aquino administration. But they’re still pro-PNOY.

There’s Pinoys watching Pnoy, critical but open-minded. And there’s the Aquino Resign Movement.

There are pro and anti-RH bill groups, media support groups and media-bashing groups, half a dozen environmental groups, a dozen music groups, all kinds of groups involving overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their issues, around ten different groups with different Mindanao-based causes. There are groups opposing and promoting mining, and even cooking groups — though I hardly cook.

And there’s one that really gives me pause: SUPPORT THE ROYAL HASHEMITE SULTANATE OF SULU AND SABAH, a group whose website sports a lot of “royal crests”, including one belonging reportedly to “Royal Datu” Antonio C. Leviste — yes, of Bilibid living-out infamy.

I remember only a handful of groups seeking permission. (Funny that all the music groups did not forget that courtesy; must be a civilizing influence.)
Some people will ask:  Should journalists join social media groups?
Well, there’s the difficulty of barring sneaking “invites”. My friends don’t have a common answer to, “how can I prevent groups from making me their member?” Facebook has, and it’s not very encouraging, especially to journalists who live a “public” social media life, with a couple of thousands of “friends”:
In other words, cunning Facebook is giving groups and networks greater power than us puny individuals. I suspect somewhere along the way it will pay off as a way of circumventing the supposed ban on “Pages” peddling wares and what-have-you.
There is only one way to prevent inclusion into an “undersirable” Group. Watch like a hawk and swipe at anybody not worth your while. As Vincent Pozon notes, “A very impolite feature of Facebook.”
Ethics-wise, the issue is controversial in journalism. Some colleagues say, Nyet! Some say, just be careful. Many social media ethics guides for journalists say, if you have to because it is part of your job to keep tabs on the rainbow — don’t discriminate.
On the record, the only groups I have volunteered for are the various “Espina family” groups, high school alumni groups and the music groups. Maybe one or two more I can’t remember, but not more than that. On one hand, it’s irksome to find that some folk need a remedial course in Good Manners & Right Conduct. On the other hand, I can’t really be outraged.
I’m a great believer in free expression and in equal opportunity. I don’t mind people posting contrary views on my page. The only things I actually delete are brazen advertisement, personal attacks on fellow Netizens; going beyond fair comment and indulging in libelous and slanderous posts about government officials; discrimination on the basis of religion, political belief, gender and sexual identity and economic status; and posts advocating hatred and espousing violence.
Inanities I will tolerate. And everyone has the right to display stupidity. But rudeness and uncouth behavior are surefire recipes for banishment. And that is not the sole domain of the pro-Corona forces 🙂
Still. I’m beginning to think a line might need to be drawn somewhere. What if some groups harbor genuine crazies? Also, there is the physical fact of having only so many hours in a day. Of what use are 200 groups if I don’t have the time to scour them for precious nuggets of news?
I close my eyes to imagine what I could lose. And all I get are the faces of those “Hashemite” datus.
Time to start pruning!
(I’d like to thank the following friends: Alma Anonas-Carpio, Nelly Bettito, Nenets Medel, Edred Jascha Didier, Pam Miguel-Callos, Maria Fema Duterte and Thonee Vargas.)

3 thoughts on “‘Groupie’ of the Year: The Facebook Dragnet

  1. instead of just leaving the group politely,since it is clear that someone made a mistake..you decided to just write a nasty blog about them ??? you must be a lowlife NOYTARD..


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