Maria Ressa: Rappler mapped the purveyors of fake news that all point to Duterte during the 2016 campaign

Maria Ressa: Rappler mapped the purveyors of fake news that all point to Duterte during the 2016 campaign

Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa is on the attack mode.

Recently her employer Rappler was found to have violated the 1987 Constitution following the Foreign Equity Restriction rule which states that "(t)he ownership and management of mass media shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations, cooperatives or associations, wholly-owned and managed by such citizens." 

In the continuation of the Senate hearing regarding Fake NEWS by the Senate committee on public information, he switches into full attack mode accusing the incumbent president as one who benefitted from the spreading of fake news that catapulted him in office at Malacañang. *
Maria Ressa (photo credit to PDI)

Ressa  alleges that Rappler was able to trace millions of false media accounts spreading fake news linked originally to the masterful campaign of President Duterte in 2016.

She claims that she has an average of 90 hate messages per hour in October 2016 after the online news site published a story on fake social media accounts.

“By mid last year, we had 12 and a half million accounts being part of it,” Ressa said

Ressa cites a certain Sally Mathay that reposted wrong information via cut-and-paste.

 “If you look at the websites and the groups of where she posts disinformation or what she wants to post, you can see the combination of pages,” Ressa said, adding that it was how an “ecosystem” of fake news was created.

“You can see both the Duterte campaign pages and former Sen. Bongbong Marcos coming together here,” she said.

Ressa said Rappler took part in a study looking at “patriotic trolling” — a state-sponsored online hate and harassment campaign “to silence and intimidate.”

“Social media provided cheap armies to potential authoritarians and dictators to control and manipulate public opinion,” Ressa said, citing the study that is set to be released in the next few months.

She did not provide details of the study, but said it mirrored the findings of a survey of 65 countries released last November by the US-based Freedom House that showed China and Russia were flooding social media with lies and disinformation rather than seeking to control them.    *

Another case she cited is the case of Sen. Leila de Lima, a staunch critic of the President now currently detained on drug charges, Ressa said the trolls first attacked the credibility of the target.

 “You allege corruption and then you repeat that exponentially because if you say a lie 10 times, truth can catch up. But if you say a lie a million times, that becomes the truth,” she said.

Ressa said the second step was to use sexual violence as this “inflames biases, fuels misogyny and then degrades the target as a sexual object.”

And the last step was to directly attack the target.

She said it was “consistent in its approach and it built off on the social media [election] campaign team and it was weaponized in July” after Mr. Duterte took office.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, who also spoke at the Senate hearing said that, “I just want it for the record that it cuts both ways. This is not the sole crime of pro-Duterte bloggers.”

Report from PDI


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