Rappler boss blames Facebook for political division, 'fake news'


Posted at Mar 11 2018 06:16 PM | Updated as of Mar 11 2018 08:48 PM

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.