Nobel Peace Prize Winners Blast Big Tech for Allowing Spread of Disinformation

The two investigative journalists who were this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winners used their acceptance speeches in order to condemn social media companies for spreading misinformation and warn of the increasing spread of authoritarianism.

Maria Ressa is the CEO of Rappler, a Filipino news website critical of the tyrannical pro-CCP Duterte regime. She said that social media companies have a responsibility for fighting disinformation and its destructive effects on democracy and public discourse.

“If you’re working in tech, I’m talking to you. How can you have election integrity if you don’t have integrity of facts?”  Ressa said in front of indignitaries in Oslo earlier this month.

Along with Ressa, Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, also was awarded the illustrious award. Muratov shed light on the growing dangers of practicing journalism under a dictatorship. Since 2000, six journalists and contributors to the newspaper have been killed extrajudicially.

“Journalism in Russia is going through a dark valley. Over a hundred journalists, media outlets, human rights defenders and NGOs have recently been branded as ‘foreign agents.’ In Russia, this means ‘enemies of the people,'” Muratov told the audience.

Muratov stated that investigative journalists are essential to understanding current affairs. He cited an example where reporters found that the number and frequency of Belarusian flights from Moscow to the Middle East had quadrupled since the beginning of the fall. To create a crisis of migration, analysts claim that Belarus encouraged refugees to mass at their border with Poland to encourage them to go to Belarus. Muratov said that even though there are increasing risks, journalists must continue to search for facts.

Five years ago, when Rappler exposed the government’s brutal war on drugs, supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte used social media platforms such as Facebook, to attack and spread fake news about Ressa and her company.

Ressa stated that other countries, including the United States have witnessed how unchecked disinformation can lead to fabricated realities and eventually grow as a bigger threat to democracy.

“Silicon Valley’s sins came home to roost in the United States on January 6 with mob violence on Capitol Hill. What happens on social media doesn’t stay on social media,” Ressa said.

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