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Social media is ‘flood of toxic sludge’ says Nobel winner
Pic: RollingNews.ie

13 Dec 2021 / technology Print

Social media a ‘flood of toxic sludge’ says Nobel winner

Nobel Peace Prize winner, Philippine journalist Maria Ressa, has said in her acceptance speech that US internet companies are responsible for a "flood of toxic sludge" on social

Ressa (58) who co-founded the news website Rappler won the Nobel prize last Friday (10 December) for her work to “safeguard freedom of expression”, along with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov (editor of the Russian newspaper, Novaya Gazeta).

Both journalists were cited for their efforts to defend freedom of expression, and have faced threats for journalism that has angered the authorities in their respective countries.

Threat to democracy

At the acceptance ceremony in Oslo City Hall, Ressa directed her fire towards Facebook, saying that the social-media organisation had become the world’s largest distributor of news, “yet it is biased against facts, it is biased against journalism … If you have no facts, you can’t have truths, you can’t have trust. If you don’t have any of these, you don’t have a democracy”.

She said that technology giants like Facebook had "allowed a virus of lies to infect each of us", adding that their algorithms “prioritise the spread of lies laced with anger and hate over facts”.

"Our greatest need today is to transform that hate and violence, the toxic sludge that's coursing through our information ecosystem," she said.

‘Dark time’

Muratov (60) urged guests at the ceremony to observe a minute's silence for journalists killed in the course of their work, and said that the profession was going through "a dark time" in Russia.

He commented that more than 100 journalists, media outlets, human-rights defenders and NGOs had been branded "foreign agents" by Russia's justice ministry.

"In Russia, this means one thing – ‘enemies of the people’,” he added.

Journalists had lost their jobs, been forced to leave the country and "deprived of the opportunity to live a normal life", he said.

Gazette Desk
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