Facebook denies taking down cartoon of Mayon Volcano in Naga City

On January 26, 2018, Newsbytes.PH published the article, “Why did Facebook take down this cartoon?” In featured the experience of a young artists whose cartoon depicting a disoriented Mount Mayon had gone viral.

By the afternoon of January 25, the cartoon has been shared over 1,500 times. It was sometime after that that the cartoon went missing.

The cartoon was seen as a lighthearted response to a hot issue at that time. It involved a government official making the mistake of saying that Mayon Volcano was in Naga City, which is also in the Bicol Region but is most definitely not in Albay. Naga is in the province of Camarines Sur.

Attack by trolls

In any case, the artist’s page had begun to be was attacked by trolls who could not take the joke. Pasted below are the comments of two of the trolls who attacked the artist’s page. It should be noted that it although their respective Facebook profiles show different names, they have the exact same comment.

The artist asked us not to link back to the Facebook page where the cartoon was originally posted to prevent further attacks. The artist also asked not to be identified anymore.

According to the artist, the cartoon got reported as objectionable content on Facebook and that it was subsequently taken down. The artist’s Facebook page, though, was still up and the other cartoons posted there were not affected. Fortunately, we had a screenshot of the cartoon that disappeared.

Newsbytes.PH page issue

Curiously enough, when Newsbytes.PH first shared the story, “Why did Facebook take down this cartoon?” on its Facebook page, we experienced some sort of issue.

As soon as we posted the story on our FB page, the page itself was rendered inaccessible for a few minutes. To be specific, the Newsbytes.PH Facebook page appeared to be down or not available from 9:10 a.m to 9:21 a.m. on January 26.

We are sure that it was not some sort of bug affecting Facebook it its entirely because we were able to access our personal pages and exchange messages on Facebook during the time that the Newsbytes.PH Facebook page appeared to be down or not available.

This may be an unfortunate coincidence, but it can’t be denied that it is rather strange.

Facebook’s response

Facebook, through its representatives in the Philippines, have denied taking down the cartoon or taking action against the artist.

Their exact words: “We have not removed the cartoon from the artist’s profile or their associated Page.” They also added: “We have not taken action on the artist’s profile or their associated Page to remove the cartoon referenced in the Newsbytes article.”

Lesson learned

We thank Facebook for making the effort to conduct an investigation on this matter. In light of all the very real problems that the country faces, which include actual situation at Mount Mayon, a cartoon that disappeared seems to be a very minor thing. To be honest, though, we’re still wondering why the cartoon disappeared.

However, amid fears of censorship and the conspiracy theories about some Invisible Hand manipulating the social media platform, it pays to be paranoid. It may be better to raise a fuss over these little “mysteries” than to suddenly be slammed with a despotic development that will cause a more lasting destruction than that from a volcanic eruption.

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