MANILA – Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Rassa used her newfound prominence to criticize Facebook as a threat to democracy, saying the social media giant fails to protect against the spread of hate and propaganda and “facts”. is biased against.”
The veteran journalist and head of Philippine news site Rapper told Reuters in an interview after winning the award that Facebook’s algorithms “prioritize the spread of lies filled with anger and hate over facts.”
His comments added to a recent heap of pressure on Facebook, which is used by more than 3 billion people, which a former employee accused of turning a profit on the need to curb hate speech and misinformation as a whistleblower. Facebook denies any wrongdoing.
Seeking comment on Resa’s remarks, a Facebook spokesperson said the social media giant is continuing to invest heavily in removing and reducing the visibility of harmful content.
“We believe in freedom of the press and support news organizations and journalists around the world as they continue their important work,” the spokesperson said.
Resa shared the Nobel on Friday with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, whom the committee called in support of free speech, under fire around the world, to anger the leaders of the Philippines and Russia for exposing corruption and misgovernance. .
Facebook has become the world’s largest news distributor and “yet it is biased against facts, it is biased against journalism,” Resa said.
“If you don’t have facts, you can’t have truths, you can’t have trust. If you don’t have any of these, you don’t have democracy,” she said. “Also, if you don’t have facts, you don’t have shared reality, so you can’t solve the climate, existential problems of the coronavirus.”
Resa has been the target of intense social-media hate campaigns from supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte, which he said were aimed at destroying him and the rapper’s credibility.
Election ‘battle of facts’
“These online attacks on social media have a purpose, they are targeted, they are used as a weapon,” the former CNN journalist said.
The rapper’s reporting includes a close-up investigation into Duterte’s deadly war on drugs and a series of investigative reports that he says are his government’s strategy to “weap up” the Internet, using bloggers on his payroll to smuggle online supporters. Those who threaten and defame Duterte in order to incite anger. Critics.
Duterte did not comment on Ressa’s award. A spokesperson for Rashtrapati Bhavan, Duterte, his chief legal adviser and communications office did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.
In March 2019 Facebook downed an online network in the Philippines for “coordinated unverified behavior” and linked it to a businessman who previously said he helped manage the president’s social media election campaign in 2016.
According to a 2021 study by social media management firms, the Philippines tops the world in time spent on social media.
Platforms such as Facebook have become political battlegrounds and helped bolster Duterte’s support base, which was instrumental in his election victory in 2016 and the defeats by his allies in the midterm elections last year.
The Philippines will hold elections in May to choose Duterte’s successor, who is not allowed to seek a second term under the constitution.
That campaign “will be a battle of facts,” Ressa said. “We’re going to make sure that our people see and understand the facts. We won’t be harassed or threatened to keep quiet.”