There are people who show their ignorance without realising it. These people champion themselves as moral crusaders and behave like they are God’s gifts to humanity. They think they have the moral high-ground when it comes to how people should conduct themselves especially on social media. Take the case of social news network Rappler CEO Maria Ressa. She made a bold attempt to lecture technology billionaire and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on how to run his empire. According to Ressa, “Facebook needs to moderate its greed, clean up the toxic waste, and be accountable for its role as the new gatekeeper to information”.
I have my own advice to Zuckerberg on how to deal with people like Ressa. He can simply close her account along with all the pages associated with Rappler. It’s simple, really. Facebook is a company with its own rules and regulations. Since Ressa is not happy with how the social networking site is being run and is even falsely accusing Zuckerberg of colluding with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, then Zuckerberg has the right to remove her from its premises. For her part, Ressa can simply click the “deactivate” button if she cannot handle the “toxicity” level on Facebook anymore. No one is forcing her to keep her account and stay on Facebook. It’s a free service. Anyone can join it and anyone can leave at any time.
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Ressa is showing her ignorance in telling a businessman like Zuckerberg to “moderate his greed”. At her age, Ressa seems too naïve to expect that Zuckerberg would actually risk losing one of the biggest community of users of his platform. 49 million Filipinos use Facebook. That is a lot of revenue considering most Filipinos spend a lot of time socialising on the site especially since a lot of Filipinos work overseas away from their families and friends.
Ressa’s statement was narrow-minded and judgemental. She was basically saying that Zuckerberg is greedy. As if she wouldn’t do what Zuckerberg is doing if she had been the first one to come up with a social networking site. Zuckerberg doesn’t force anyone to log onto Facebook in the first place. It’s not like he puts a gun on people’s heads to “like” stuff. A lot of people are drawn to Facebook because Zuckerberg and his team came up with a brilliant way to attract people. As far as I am concerned, that’s not a crime. At least not yet. Most people might have gotten addicted to the dopamine hit every time they get “likes” on their selfies and posts, but that’s just human nature at work.
As a matter of fact, Ressa could be bitter about not getting enough “likes” on her posts, which is is why she has resorted to blaming Facebook for her site’s diminishing engagements. Let’s face it, if it were the other way around, if she was the one getting all the positive feedback from millions of Netizens, she wouldn’t be complaining about Facebook. She was actually praising Facebook for being a platform for social change once upon a time, back when Rappler was still popular during former President BS Aquino’s term. But since receiving backlash from Netizens for her biased reporting, she has since been very harsh with Facebook and founder Zuckerberg. It’s like blaming the rain for her bad day.
Apparently, some members of foreign media – those who hold “liberal” views – are listening to Ressa’s noise. MSNBC – a news outlet in the US – is also blaming Facebook for the rise of so-called “authoritarians” like Duterte and US President Donald Trump. They dedicated a program to discussing how Zuckerberg is allowing “fake news” to spread for profit and has quoted Ressa’s “research” citing millions of fake accounts were created to help Duterte and Trump win.
Ressa is spreading the lie that Duterte only won because of bots and trolls spreading “fake news” that presented him in a positive light. If that were true, Duterte’s satisfaction rating would have gone down already. But Duterte still enjoys a high satisfaction rating after almost two years. He wouldn’t have been able to sustain that if he based his platform on lies. The people would have seen through it within a few months. This is something the likes of Ressa fail to analyse properly. She’s letting her emotions rule instead of applying a bit more rational thinking.
It seems Ressa is not familiar with the concept called the free market of ideas. Facebook just created a platform where people can share their ideas. It’s not up to Zuckerberg to control what people believe in. In a true democracy, people are free to choose whatever to “like” and “share”. If Ressa’s posts don’t get enough “likes” or “shares”, that’s not Zuckerberg’s fault. She simply needs to come up with smarter ways to get her message across. Perhaps it doesn’t help that since siding with the Liberal Party, she has lost credibility. She’s lost a lot of “followers” – those who don’t want to receive nonsense anymore.
Truth be told, Rappler went down together with the Liberal Party. It was their partisan politics that sent them down. As a journalist, Maria Ressa should have known not to show her bias in reporting the news. She couldn’t help but be nice to the Aquinos. She is still beholden to the name.
Ressa already calls people with contrarian views “bots” and “trolls”. She is the one peddling lies and exaggerations with inflated number of deaths attributed to “extra-judicial killings” and when she calls Duterte “authoritarian”. Maria Ressa should be made to answer for spreading false information to the international community, indeed.
In life, things are not always what they seem.