Social media creates a virus of lies, says Nobel laureate Maria Ressa

Social media platforms have a bias against the facts and are creating “a virus of lies” that threatens all democracies, declared the journalist Maria ressa, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Ressa, one of the most prominent journalists in the Philippines, noted that social media platforms are “insidiously manipulating our minds, creating alternative realities, making it impossible for us to think slowly“.

Simply focusing on moderating social media content is distracting, he said, and it is the design of the platforms, and the algorithms they use to promote the content, that need review.

In his participation in the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Sydney Dialogue, Ressa accused social media companies of misusing arguments related to freedom of expression. “It is a question of freedom of scope, no of freedom of expression“, said.

“There is something fundamentally wrong with our information ecosystem. Because the platforms that disseminate the facts actually have a bias against the facts, ”he added, pointing to Facebook as the largest news broadcast platform in the world.

Ressa received the Nobel Prize together with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov last month for their “courageous fight for freedom of expression, a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”

In 2012 he co-founded the news website Rappler, which has become one of the most popular media outlets in the Philippines, known for analyzing the Rodrigo Duterte administration.

Rappler has not only reported on Duterte’s war on drugs and exposed government corruption, but he has also explored the ways that populist leaders can manipulate social media.

Ressa commented that no democracy is immune from these threats. “I think what the technology platforms have shown is exactly how easy it is to use technology to manipulate human biology“He said, adding that this transcends different countries and cultures.

While many governments have implemented regulations to protect themselves from other potentially dangerous technologies, they have failed to do the same with information technology, which will continue to develop in complexity. “(Technology) thinks word for word faster than any human being can. And they will not be able to get Artificial Intelligence to fix the problems that human beings have created ”.

Ressa pointed out that the world needed to take radical measures to protect democracies, as it had done before at other key moments in history. “After the Second World War, we did not want a Third World War with atomic bombs. That has already happened in our information ecosystem. It is manipulating our minds, ”he said.

Google Senior Vice President of Global Affairs Kent Walker, who also participated in the session, commented that transparency around algorithms was difficult due to the frequency with which they are modified to prevent people from exploiting the system.

“I think we made between 2,500 and 3,000 changes last year… I think transparency has its role, but we have to reflect: is it through trusted government reviewers or (are there) other ways to prevent bad actors from reducing the quality of the search results you get, for example? It’s a complicated area, ”he said, adding that there is a danger that many governments will also try to manipulate search results.

Ressa commented that the decision to award him the Nobel Prize showed the magnitude of the crisis facing journalism and information. “Because the last time that journalists received this award was in 1936, and he could not go to collect the award, but was consumed in a Nazi concentration camp,” he said. (Carl von Ossietzky, a German journalist, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1935).

Ressa has faced incessant harassment online and in court in response to her reports.

He previously described receiving “90 hate messages per hour, 90 rape threats per minute“. He has faced a number of cases ranging from alleged tax evasion to defamation, and is out on bail to appeal a six-year prison sentence for defamation..

We would like to thank the author of this write-up for this amazing content

Social media creates a virus of lies, says Nobel laureate Maria Ressa