Filipino Nobel laureate Ressa calls Facebook “biased against the facts”

By Karen Lema

MANILA, Oct. 9 (Reuters) – Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa has used her newfound notoriety to criticize Facebook as a threat to democracy, saying the social media giant does not protect against the spread of hatred and disinformation and is “partially against the facts”.

Veteran journalist and director of the Philippine news site Rappler told Reuters in an interview after winning the award that Facebook’s algorithms “prioritize spreading lies mixed with anger and hatred over facts.”

His comments add to the heap of recent pressure on Facebook, used by over 3 billion people, that a former employee has become a whistleblower ahead-senate- hearing-2021-10-03 accused of putting profit before the need to fight against hate speech and disinformation. Facebook denies any wrongdoing.

A Facebook representative in the Philippines did not respond to requests for comment on Ressa’s comments.

Ressa shared the Nobel Prize https: //www.reuters .com / world / philippines-journalist-ressa-russian-journalist-muratov-win-2021-nobel-peace-2021-10-08 with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov russian-editor -muratov-dedicates-nobel-prize-personnel-murdered-their-work-2021-10-08 on Friday, for what the committee called braving the wrath of the leaders of the Philippines and Russia to expose corruption and bad government, in an endorsement of free speech under fire from around the world.

Facebook has become the world’s largest distributor of information and “yet it is biased against the facts, it is biased against journalism,” Ressa said.

“If you don’t have facts, you can’t have truths, you can’t trust. If you don’t have any of these, you don’t have democracy,” she said. . “Beyond that, if you don’t have facts, you don’t have a shared reality, so you can’t solve the existential problems of the climate, of the coronavirus.”

Ressa has been the target of intense social media hate campaigns from supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte, who she says were aimed at destroying her and Rappler’s credibility.


“These online social media attacks have a purpose, they are targeted, they are used as a weapon,” the former CNN reporter said.

Rappler’s reporting included a close examination of Duterte’s murderous war on drugs and a series of investigative reports on what he says is his government’s strategy to “militarize” the internet, using bloggers on his payroll to anger online supporters who threaten and discredit Duterte’s critics.

Duterte has not commented on Ressa’s price. The presidential palace, Duterte’s spokesperson, his chief legal adviser and the communications office did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.

In March 2019, Facebook took down an online network in the Philippines for “coordinated inauthentic behavior”, and linked it to a male d business who previously said he helped run the president’s social media campaign in 2016.

Filipinos rule the world in time spent on social media, according to 2021 studies by social media management companies.

Platforms like Facebook became political battlegrounds and helped bolster Duterte’s base of support, having been instrumental in his electoral victory in 2016 and the rout of his allies in the midterm polls. last year.

The Philippines will hold elections in May to choose a successor to Duterte, which under the constitution is not allowed to seek another mandate.

This campaign “will be a battle for the facts,” Ressa said. “We will continue to make sure our audience sees the facts, understands them. We are not going to be harassed or intimidated into silence.”

(Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by William Mallard)

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