What if you built an online news site from the ground up, ironically starting from a simple Facebook Groups page. You grew to hire dozens of editors and became the antagonist of the President as you investigated various criminal activities of his administration, including calling out various fake news proclamations by government officials. Then to silence your efforts, the government used a new cybersecurity law to (again ironically) indict and ultimate find you guilty with a six-month jail sentence. Oh, and there were death threats and various Presidential proclamations and attacks along the way.
You might be trying to figure out which American news source I am talking about, but it is the website Rappler, The site was founded nearly ten years ago by Maria Ressa, who just shared the Nobel Peace Prize (and has numerous other awards including a Fulbright). Ressa’s Rappler has exposed a variety of Philippine government corruption scandals and various financial dirt and called attention to the anti-drug campaign that has resulted in the murder of thousands of supposed drug dealers.
Her arrest warrant was issued in 2019 was created due to one seemingly innocent action by Rappler: making a small spelling correction to an 2012 article that made it fall under the law’s purview. Ressa faces numerous other pending legal cases too.
Ressa’s plight was documented in an excellent PBS Frontline piece not too long ago. Called A Thousand Cuts, it shows how hard she worked to reveal the perfidy of her government, and the peril that she faced for running an investigative news operation. I am glad the Nobel committee has recognized her efforts and hope that all the attention will eventually overturn her unjust criminal charges. The world needs more people like her to bring sunlight into the real criminals running her government.
I’m so old…. I remember her from CNN!.
Love this explanation! Thank you for sharing – I’ll definitely follow the links to learn more.
Thanks for the comments, Bob and Kitty. This piece in Bloomberg News from 2017 shows the weaponization of Facebook in the Phillippines: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-12-07/how-rodrigo-duterte-turned-facebook-into-a-weapon-with-a-little-help-from-facebook
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