Maria Ressa and Dmitri Muratov recently took home the Nobel Peace Prize, marking the first time working journalists have won the award since 1935. Ressa believes the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision to recognize journalists this year sends a signal that, once again, “we are on the brink of the rise of fascism.” Through her digital media company Rappler, Ressa has been on the front lines of covering President Rodrigo Duterte’s regime in the Philippines, exposing the leader’s tactics of “violence and fear.” She also sounded the alarm on the role that social media platforms have played in the rise of leaders like Duterte and Donald Trump, saying that Facebook in particular “exploded an atom bomb” by amplifying misinformation and propaganda.
Ressa’s reporting has made her a target for lawsuits from the Duterte government and online harassment from his supporters: One study found almost 400,000 tweets targeting Ressa over a 13-month period. And she was convicted of cyber libel in 2020, which has made it difficult for her to leave the country.
[You can listen to this episode of “Sway” on Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.]
In this conversation, Kara Swisher asks Ressa to discuss the role of social media in the rise of polarization, and to consider if new revelations from the Facebook whistle-blower will be a game changer. And Ressa shares how her work — and the onslaught of lawsuits in response to it — have impacted her personal life and her family.
(A full transcript of the episode will be available midday on the Times website.)
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“Sway” is produced by Nayeema Raza, Blakeney Schicke, Matt Kwong, Daphne Chen and Caitlin O’Keefe, and edited by Nayeema Raza; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair; music and sound design by Isaac Jones; engineering by Sonia Herrero; mixing by Carole Sabouraud; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Mahima Chablani.