You gotta hand it to the circlejerk relationship Rappler manages to cling on to with the New York Times. This recent article, Soldiers in Facebook’s War on Fake News Are Feeling Overrun makes like CEO Maria Ressa’s Rapplerettes are on a mission from God.
The tone of the piece goes beyond drama into the realm of the OA (Google that Filipinoism)…
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“It’s frustrating,” said Marguerite de Leon, 32, a Rappler employee who receives dozens of tips each day about false stories from readers. “We’re cleaning up Facebook’s mess.”
On the front lines in the war over misinformation, Rappler is overmatched and outgunned — and that could be a worrying indicator of Facebook’s effort to curb the global problem by tapping fact-checking organizations around the world. Civil society groups have complained that Facebook’s support is weak. Others have said the company doesn’t offer enough transparency to tell what works and what doesn’t.
What a bunch of whiners.
The author of the article, Alexandra Stevenson of course fails to mention that the reason Facebook is so deeply-entrenched in Philippine society is because it is in a marriage of convenience with big telco companies there. The Internet service provider (ISP) arms of major telcos in the Philippines provide free data carriage to content orginating from Facebook to users subscribed to their services.
This puts much of what information Filipinos consume under the control of a small handful of private enterprises. Not at all a healthy situation. This, perhaps, is the bigger issue real journalists need to call out — how private interests are colluding to monopolise information dissemination in the Philippines. One should also note the possible conflicts of interest inherent in the “fact check” arrangement between Rappler and Facebook. Is this an inappropriate relationship given that the latter aims to be an “objective” news organisation and the latter insists it is a “neutral” platform for sharing information?
The facts and salient points of this issue are masked under a veneer of trite emotionalism as only liberal media outfits like the NYT can deliver. One begins to wonder who the real purveyors of “fake news” are. For that matter, who died and anointed the Rapplerettes the de facto gurus of “fact checking” in the Philippines? Could it be the same cheering squad of media interests that seem to be in a global love-in campaign against a bogey they themselves created?
People need to ask the right questions and not simply take as fact what these “journalists” feed them. After all, it was the NYT among others of its ilk that practically assured the American people back in 2016 that the Democrats could not be beaten and, as a result, lulled everyone to a false sense that they would emerge the winners. For its part, Rappler is the subject of many Filipinos’ speculation that its existence is premised on the task of keeping the Philippines’ Liberal Party (a.k.a. the Yellowtards) in power.
Private interests and political agendas are marriages made in heaven after all. “News” organisations are not exempt.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.