Copenhagen, Dec 10 (EFE).- The recipients of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov, on Friday gave rousing calls to protect free speech and human rights amid an environment made ever more challenging by the rise of authoritarianism and technology.
First to deliver her lecture at the award ceremony in Oslo was Maria Ressa, a veteran journalist, co-founder of Rappler and the first Filipino Nobel laureate who used her time on stage to rebuke tech and social media giants for thriving on division and anger.
“Our greatest need today is to transform that hate and violence, the toxic sludge that’s coursing through our information ecosystem prioritized by American internet companies that make more money by spreading that hate and triggering the worst in us.
“What happens on social media doesn’t stay on social media. Online violence is real world violence. Social media is a deadly game of power and money, extracting our private lives for outsized corporate gain.
“Our personal experiences are sucked into a database, organized by AI and sold to the highest bidder. Highly profitable micro-targeting operations are engineered to structurally undermine human will,” she added.
Social media, she continued, is a behavior modification system that works like a real-life Pavlov’s dog experiment with “disastrous consequences in countries like mine, Myanmar, India, Sri Lanka.“
She spoke of her own challenges as a journalist in the Philippines.
“In less than two years, the Philippine government filed 10 arrest warrants against me,” she said. “All told, the charges I face could send me to jail for about 100 years.”
Muratov, editor-in-chief of the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, echoed Ressa’s words and gave pause to remember journalists killed or jailed for doing their job.
“We pass on this award to help people who are ill, and to support independent journalism,” he said.
“But journalism in Russia is going through a dark valley. Over a hundred journalists, media outlets, human rights defenders and NGOs have recently been branded as ‘foreign agents.’
“In Russia, this means ‘enemies of the people.’ Many of our colleagues have lost their jobs. Some have to leave the country.”
The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Peace Prize to Ressa and Muratov for “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”
The Committee described the laureates as “representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions.”EFE