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“Journalism, biased against facts”: Nobel peace winner criticizes Facebook

Maria Russa shared the Nobel with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov. Reuters

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 is “biased against facts”. ” Is.

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 Ms 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.

Ms Russa shared the Nobel on Friday with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, whom the committee called for free speech under fire around the world, to allay the anger of the leaders of the Philippines and Russia for exposing corruption and misgovernance. said. Facebook has become the world’s largest news distributor and “yet it is biased against facts, it is biased against journalism”, Ms Rasa 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.”

Ms Resa has been the target of intense social-media hate campaigns from supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte, which she said were aimed at destroying her 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 scrutiny of Mr. Duterte’s deadly war on drugs and what it says is his government’s strategy to “weaponize” the Internet, using bloggers on his payroll to threaten and defame bloggers. It is meant to incite anger among online supporters. Critics of Mr. Duterte. Mr Duterte has not commented on Ms Resa’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 have helped bolster Mr Duterte’s support base, instrumental in his election victory in 2016 and the defeat by his allies in the midterm elections last year.

An election will be held in the Philippines in May to choose Mr Duterte’s successor, who is not allowed to seek a second term under the constitution.

That campaign “will be a battle of facts”, Ms Rasa 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.”

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NB staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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