Nobel winner Ressa demands laws to fix FB’s ‘bias against facts’

Filipino journalist and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, one of 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winners, speaks during an interview in Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines, October 9, 2021. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

NOBEL Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa (pic) called for technology companies to face greater regulation globally to curb disinformation on social media, as she criticised Facebook Inc for being “biased against facts”.

“This is like an atom bomb exploded in our information ecosystem because we can’t tell facts from fiction,” Ressa said, in a pre-taped interview for Bloomberg Live’s Equality Summit.

“How do we put the genie back in the bottle? I think legislation, that’s first.”

Ressa cited the UK’s Online Safety Bill as an example of regulation that makes technology companies more accountable, but cautioned that passing such laws can take years.

Facebook has recently faced fresh scrutiny in the US after a whistle-blower alleged the company downplayed its platforms’ risks to the public.

American lawmakers are considering laws to strengthen privacy rules for internet companies and protections for children online.

Ressa also called on Facebook to tweak its news feed to highlight credible sources in the Philippines in time for the May 2022 presidential elections.

“We will not have integrity of elections without integrity of facts,” she said.

“Our democracy is at stake.”

The Philippine journalist and Russian editor Dmitry Muratov shared this year’s Nobel Peace Prize “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression”.

The co-founder and CEO of digital media company Rappler was cited for her reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war that has killed thousands, as well as for documenting the spread of fake news through social media.

The Philippine journalist, who was included in Bloomberg’s 50 Most Influential ranking in 2020, has been in Duterte’s cross-hairs for years, once branded a “fraud” by the president.

She is currently appealing a conviction for cyberlibel, while also facing tax cases.

Duterte’s spokesman has said Ressa’s Nobel prize proves that press freedom is alive in the Philippines.

The Southeast Asian nation ranked 138 out of 180 nations and territories this year in Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, down two notches from its 2020 ranking. — Bloomberg

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