Rappler boss blames Facebook for political division, ‘fake news’

MANILA – The head of news website Rappler scored Facebook and
its algorithms for sowing political divisions among the public
and allowing the proliferation of online “trolls” and “fake
news.” 

Facebook’s algorithms sharpened disagreements and divisions by
making users only see content that they would agree with,
Rappler CEO Maria Ressa said in an interview on “The Bottomline
with Boy Abunda” that aired late Saturday. 

“Let’s say, if you are against President Duterte, you’re only
talking to the people like you, and you will move further out
here,” said Ressa, gesturing with her right hand. 

“If you’re for President Duterte, since you’re only talking
among people like you, you’ll move further out here, and there
is no public space,” she added, moving her other hand
away. 

Facebook, she said, also propagated disinformation by treating
facts on “a popularity basis.” 

Posts that appear on users’ Facebook feeds are those with more
engagement — regardless of accuracy or whether or not these
were spread by click farms and trolls, Ressa said. 

“If you could get 30,000 people — sana they’re people — but
if you can have 30,000 fake accounts click, click, click,
click, click, you then will win the game. Facts don’t work like
that,” she added. 

Facebook Inc. founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg last
year apologized for how the site has been used to divide
people. 

“For the ways my work was used to divide people rather than
bring us together, I ask forgiveness and I will work to do
better,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post marking the end of
Yom Kippur, the Jewish holiday of atonement. 

He did not refer to specific issues in the message, which came
as Facebook and other technology companies were put under
increased scrutiny amid an investigation into potential Russian
involvement in the 2016 US Presidential election campaign.
 
Facebook said in September 2017 that it had found that an
operation likely based in Russia spent $100,000 on thousands of
US ads promoting divisive social and political messages in a
2-year period through May.

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