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Nobel Peace Prize Winner Says Facebook Fueling “Toxic Sludge”

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Nobel Prize Winner Ressa Says Facebook Fueling "Toxic Sludge"
Maria Ressa, a Philippine journalist and editor honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, launched a spirited attack against Facebook. Accusing them of fueling a flood of “toxic sludge” on social media.
The co-founder of the news site Rappler, Ressa won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize together with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov.
According to Ressa, American Tech Giants like Facebook and Twitter spread a virus of lies, which pits neighbours against each other, bringing out fears, anger, and hatred. This allows authoritarian regimes and dictators to rise worldwide.
The world’s largest news distributor, Facebook, spreads lies laced with anger and hate faster than facts.
We have an information ecosystem dominated by American social media companies that are biased against facts and biased against journalists. These companies intentionally divide us and radicalize us.

We need to transform that hate and violence, the toxic sludge that runs through our information ecosystem – prioritized by American internet companies that make more money spreading hatred and provoking the darkest parts of us, she said.

“What happens on Facebook doesn’t stay on Facebook.” “Virtual violence is also real-world violence.”

Ressa said facts and truth were at the heart of solving the biggest challenges facing society today.

Facebook must restore the facts

The truth cannot be found without facts. Trust cannot be built without the truth. It is impossible to address the existential problems of our world – climate change, Coronavirus, the search for truth – without trust, Ressa said.

Our information ecosystem has been hit by an invisible atom bomb, and we must act as we did following Hiroshima. To prevent humanity from doing worse, it is crucial to create new institutions, like the United Nations, and new codes of values, like the universal declaration of human rights.

Basically, the information ecosystem is in an arms race. Stopping it requires a multilateral approach that requires all of our participation. We must first restore the facts.

An information ecosystem must be built on facts. This can be accomplished by shifting social priorities to rebuild journalism for the 21st century. Furthermore, regulating and outlawing the surveillance economics that profit from hate and lies, especially Facebook.

Ressa, who runs the news website Rappler is also highly critical of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. Furthermore, Ressa has been subject to seven lawsuits in the Philippines that she says risk putting her in jail for 100 years.

She also is currently on parole, pending an appeal after being convicted of defamation last year. She needed to ask four courts for permission to travel and collect her Nobel prize in person.

Read the full text of Maria Ressa’s Nobel speech, click here.