PLP leader Philip “Brave” Davis.
By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT
AFTER weeks of being prey to online political mischief, the Progressive Liberal Party is fighting back and its leader, Philip “Brave” Davis has written to Facebook’s headquarters to have it stopped.
Mr Davis is petitioning the powerful and popular social media platform to change the internal policies that currently allow “fake organisations” to use the platform to spread their messages. He said the accounts are trying to “subvert” The Bahamas’ democracy.
In a letter addressed to Jennifer Newstead, Facebook’s vice president and general counsel, and Henry Moniz, Facebook’s chief compliance officer, Mr Davis listed 11 “fake” Facebook accounts that he said are using the PLP’ logo and sullying the party’s reputation.
In the letter, he said free and fair elections are the cornerstones of Bahamian democracy and the fake accounts are distorting and harming public discourse in the country ahead of the 2022 scheduled general election.
“Please find below a list of 11 accounts that are falsely identifying themselves to the users of your platform,” Mr Davis wrote. “Several of these accounts use our party’s logo to try to deceive people into believing these messages come from us. There is strong evidence that these accounts are administered by the same person or persons; identical content is run across various pages; several of the pages link to the same splash page; they use the same video.
“This is not the work of separate organisations. This is the work of one political organisation using deceitful tactics to subvert both your rules and our democracy.”
The accounts in question are “PLPs for Change”, “Inside Nassau”, “Bahamian Today”, “245 Wiki”, “Wellmudafuc”, “242 Truth Tellers”, “The History of the PLP”, “Grand Bahama Memes”, “In the Loop Grand Bahama”, “Nygard’s PLP” and “PLP Dirty Dozen”.
In the letter, Mr Davis requested that Facebook check out the legitimacy of organisations before allowing them to advertise.
“We believe if you would take the simple step of requiring an organisation to be legitimate before allowing it to advertise, you would have an enormous impact on the health of public discourse – without having to be the arbiter of what is or isn’t true,” the letter said.
After noting an increase of negative ads against the party on Facebook, Mr Davis felt prompted to write the letter. One example is a “startling” ad that flooded Facebook which featured Ann-Marie Davis, his wife, and female PLP candidates with duct tape over their mouths indicating their silence over the alleged sexual crimes of international fashion mogul Peter Nygard.
“It has been suggested to me by some that this is now standard practice in politics, and that in order to compete in the digital age, our party should also fund anonymous Facebook accounts that send out false information about our political opponents. I have refused to do this. I want to end this poisonous practice, not contribute to it,” Mr Davis’ letter continued.
Stating that although the accounts are fake, their damage to his party’s reputation is real, Mr Davis informed the Facebook authorities that the listed social media accounts are in violation of Facebook’s Community Standards governing account integrity and identity misrepresentation and should be removed.
Mr Davis asked Facebook to put the integrity of the nation’s elections ahead of its profits.