Nobel laureate Ressa slams Facebook
The veteran journalist and head of Philippine news site Rappler told Agencies in an interview after winning the award that Facebook’s algorithms “prioritise the spread of lies laced with anger and hate over facts”.
Her comments add to the pile of recent pressure on Facebook, used by more than 3 billion people, which a former employee turned whistleblower accused of putting profit over the need to curb hate speech and misinformation. Facebook denies any wrongdoing.
Sought for comment on Ressa’s remarks, a Facebook spokesperson said the social media giant continues to invest heavily to remove and reduce the visibility of harmful content. “We believe in press freedom and support news organisations and journalists around the world as they continue their important work,” the spokesperson added.
Facebook has become the world’s largest distributor of news and “yet it is biased against facts, it is biased against journalism”, Ressa said.
“If you have no facts, you can’t have truths, you can’t have trust. If you don’t have any of these, you don’t have a 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 climate, coronavirus.”
Meanwhile, veteran Philippine journalist Maria Ressa on Saturday said her Nobel Peace Prize was for “all journalists around the world”, as she vowed to continue her battle for press freedom. “This is really for all journalists around the world,” Ressa said in an interview.
“We do need help on so many fronts — it is so much more difficult and dangerous to be a journalist today.”
Philippine press groups and rights activists hailed Ressa’s award as a “triumph” in a country ranked as one of the world’s most dangerous for journalists.
Meanwhile,the office of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has congratulated Filipino journalist Maria Ressa on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, three days after the committee named her the winner alongside Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov. Ressa is the first Filipino recipient of the prestigious honour, and also the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize this year.
The award is a “victory for a Filipina and we are very happy for that,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told a regular news conference in the first comment on Ressa’s win by the president and his supporters.
Meanwhile, the young editors and reporters of the Philippine news site Rappler said, they were energized by Ressa’s award. But they know tough times lie ahead. The news website could still be shut down. There are seven active court cases pending against Ressa and Rappler. The site’s journalists face immense pressure from online trolls, who have been emboldened by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s suggestion that reporters should be treated as “spies” who are “not exempted from assassination.”
“We need to fight and soldier on,” said Gemma Mendoza, who leads Rappler’s efforts to address disinformation in digital media. “You feel, when you’re in this situation, that it is bigger than yourself. And having that feeling fuels you and you keep going.”
Rappler has come to symbolize fearless journalism in a region where the press is consistently hobbled.
Reporters for Rappler know all too well that defying Duterte comes at a high price. In January 2018, the Philippines’ Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it would revoke Rappler’s operating license, saying the site had violated laws on foreign ownership. The action was widely seen by rights activists and other journalists as retaliation for Rappler’s coverage of Duterte’s brutal drug war.
For years, Duterte has been hostile toward the press, even before becoming president. In 2016, while campaigning for the presidency, he said he would not answer any more questions from the media. He has accused the media of “slanting” his statements.
Founded in 2012, the news organization exposed how some of the people killed by the police had not fought back, as authorities had said, but instead were summarily executed. It called for those responsible to be held accountable.
In February 2019, authorities arrested Ressa and a researcher in a libel case involving an article that was published four months before the law they invoked was enacted. In June 2020, Ressa was convicted of that charge, which she is appealing.
– THE HINDUSTAN TIMES, NDTV,ALJAZEERA