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The Lives & Lies In Social Media…

Maria Angelita Ressa – the Filipino-American journalist and author, Co-founder and CEO of independent online newspaper Rappler, and the first Filipino Nobel Prize Laureate – believes that Social Media, especially Facebook, has turned out to be too dangerous for Democracy!

She has alleged that the world’s largest Social Media platform has completely failed to stop the spread of hatred and disinformation, and it is “biased against facts”. “It has often been noticed that the company is not fully neutral with the information. Facebook’s algorithms prioritise the spread of lies laced with anger and hate over facts,” stressed the Nobel Peace Laureate.

Maria Ressa

It may be noted that the US Congress recently made the same allegation against the multinational technology company based in Menlo Park, California. During her testimony before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation in the first week of October 2021, the former Product Manager of Facebook, Frances Haugen, admitted that the company was playing with people’s safety only to make profit. She further accused Facebook of dividing the society and also of harming the mental health of children. Haugen stressed that Facebook should change its algorithm, and cooperate with researchers.

Frances Haugen

Republicans and Democrats seem to agree on very few issues; however, members of both the parties have agreed on the Facebook issue. As expected, Facebook CEO and media magnate Mark Elliot Zuckerberg made an attempt to deny the allegation, saying: “It’s difficult to see coverage that misrepresents our work and our motives. At the most basic level, I think most of us just don’t recognise the false picture of the company that is being painted.” He insisted: “When it comes to young people’s health or well-being, every negative experience matters. We have worked for years on industry-leading efforts to help people in these moments and I’m proud of the work we’ve done.” However, Facebook is still under a lot of pressure, and so far, it has not responded to Ressa’s comments.

Mark Elliot Zuckerberg

Facebook, in the words of Ressa, is the world’s largest distributor of news, and it is “biased against facts“, as well as “biased against journalism“, posing a threat against Democracy as the platform continues to allow bad actors to sow disinformation. “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 told The Guardian last week. The Filipino journalist strongly criticised Facebook policies toward leaders, like President of the Philippines Rodrigo Roa Duterte, and its role in Developing Countries and Non-Democratic Regimes.

According to a 2021 survey, the Filipinos spend the most time on Social Media. Ressa, a fierce critic of President Duterte, has always been a target of the President’s supporters. She said that it was basically an attempt to downplay the importance of her organisation in promoting Democratic Values by using Social Media. Ressa has repeatedly reminded the Global Community how important it is for the news spread on Facebook to be accurate and neutral in such a scenario.

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