Nobel winner Maria Ressa accuses social media giants of fuelling 'toxic sludge'

Journalist accepts prize alongside Russian co-winner at ceremony in Norway

Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa accuses US tech giants of creating 'toxic sludge' with their online platforms. AP

Nobel laureate Maria Ressa has launched a vitriolic attack on American tech giants, accusing them of fuelling a flood of “toxic sludge” on social media.

The Philippine journalist made the remarks as she accepted her Nobel Peace Prize at Oslo City Hall on Friday, alongside her Russian co-winner, Dmitry Muratov.

Ms Ressa, the co-founder of news website Rappler, attacked the technology industry which “has allowed a virus of lies to infect each of us, pitting us against each other, bringing out our fears, anger and hate, and setting the stage for the rise of authoritarians and dictators around the world.”

“Our greatest need today is to transform that hate and violence, the toxic sludge that's coursing through our information ecosystem, prioritised by American internet companies that make more money by spreading that hate and triggering the worst in us,” she said.

“What happens on social media doesn't stay on social media. Online violence is real world violence,” Ms Ressa said.

Ms Ressa said facts and truth were at the heart of solving the biggest challenges facing society today.

“Without facts, you can't have truth. Without truth, you can't have trust. Without trust, we have no shared reality, no democracy, and it becomes impossible to deal with our world's existential problems: climate, coronavirus, the battle for truth.”

Ms Ressa, whose website is highly critical of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, is the subject of seven lawsuits in her country that she says risk putting her in jail for 100 years.

Quote
What happens on social media doesn't stay on social media. Online violence is real world violence

Currently on parole, pending an appeal after being convicted of defamation last year, she needed to ask four courts for permission to travel and collect her Nobel Prize in person.

Also speaking on Friday, joint winner Dmitry Muratov said journalism was going “through a dark valley”, as members of the media are branded as “foreign agents".

Nobel Peace Prize winners Dmitry Muratov from Russia, right, and Maria Ressa of the Philippines bow to the crowd during the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony at Oslo City Hall.  AFP

Mr Muratov said, dedicating his prize to “the entire community of investigative journalists” and his colleagues at Novaya Gazeta who lost their lives.

Updated: December 10th 2021, 2:30 PM