An “open group” page on the popular social networking site Facebook purports to have nearly 14,000 online supporters rooting for the beleaguered and impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona.
But upon closer inspection, some of those who were “added” to the “We Support Chief Justice Corona and the Rule of Law” Facebook group could not possibly be supporters because they have openly written or spoken against Corona.
Rappler editor-in-chief Marites Vitug has released several hard-hitting stories about Corona, being among the first to openly criticize the chief justice’s alleged “midnight appointment” shortly before the May 2010 national elections. And yet on March 30, Vitug was added as a “Corona supporter.” As of Monday evening, she has since left the group.
Asia Society executive director Harvey Keh is an active member of the “Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership,” a group which released a statement of support for Corona’s impeachment a few days after the House of Representatives had transmitted the articles of impeachment to the Senate in December last year. And yet, according to the Facebook group page, Keh remains a “Corona supporter” after having been added to the group two months ago.
Most of those on the pro-Corona Facebook group page were only “invited” by their Facebook friends – such as Senators Edgardo Angara, Francis Escudero, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Kiko Pangilinan.
The legislators are among the 23 senator-judges who sit in judgment at Corona’s trial in the Senate.
Other prominent invitees on the pro-Corona page even include House prosecution spokesman Aurora Representative Sonny Angara, as well as activist lawyers Harry Roque and Argee Guevarra.
An uphill struggle
GMA News Online tried contacting some of the known personalities who were invited into the group. According to the staff of Senators Angara and Escudero, the lawmakers do not manage their own Facebook accounts and are probably unaware that they were added to such a group. As of Monday evening, both senators have declined the invitations and are no longer counted among “Corona supporters” on the page.
On the other hand, the staff of Sen. Trillanes confirmed that the lawmaker’s account that was added was his own personal account but that he was likewise probably unaware of the group. Text messages to the senator went unanswered.
GMA News Online also tried contacting Roque but calls to his cellphone likewise went unanswered.
The effort at inflating the number of Corona “supporters” on Facebook signifies an uphill struggle. So far, sentiments on Facebook and Twitter have been overwhelmingly against Corona.
PNoy’s supporters, who one assumes have been among the most active in bashing Corona on social media, are a web-savvy lot. One of the early indicators that Noynoy Aquino could win the 2010 election in a landslide was his vastly superior numbers on Facebook, where his fan base was among the largest of any politician in the world, many of whom aggressively defended their candidate.
Corona’s 14,000 are minuscule in comparison and even those include critics who would probably eventually remove themselves.
Added without consent? Leave page
The Facebook Help Center provides this tip under the frequently asked question, “Can I prevent people from adding me to a new group?”
“The functionality of approving a group membership is not available,” the online tip begins. “Similar to being tagged in a photo, you can only be added to a group by one of your friends. When a friend adds you to a group, a story in the group (and in News Feed for Open or Closed groups) will indicate that your friend has added you to a group.”
The FAQ tip also reminds Facebook users to “Please keep in mind:”
Only your friends can add you to groups.
When a friend adds you to a group, you’ll get a notification right away.
You can leave a group anytime. To do so, just go to the group page and click “Leave Group” in the right-hand column. Once you leave a group, you can’t be added by anyone else unless you explicitly request to be re-added.