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Prague-based media development worker from Poland with a journalistic background. Previously worked on digital issues in Brussels. Piqs about digital issues, digital rights, data protection, new trends in journalism and anything else that grabs my attention.
Five months after Mark Zuckerberg went through his first series of hearings on Capitol Hill over the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, U.S. lawmakers grilled Facebook again last week, this time focusing their inquiry on election interference. But while the majority of the media’s attention focuses on Facebook's role in the U.S. elections, be it past or future, the issue is even more serious in other countries.
Among the many examples is the Philippines, a country where, as a result of Facebook's efforts to bring free Internet access, many of the country's citizens believe the platform is synonymous with the Internet itself. It is also a country where President Rodrigo Duterte's online campaign, marked by manipulation and incitement to violence, found fertile ground, according to BuzzFeed's brilliant longread.
Although Duterte doesn’t personally use the platform, his devoted supporters and campaigners zealously spread pro-Duterte memes and messages across Facebook during the 2016 presidential elections. Even the platform itself proclaimed Duterte the “undisputed king of Facebook conversations” in its April 2016 report. Still, according to BuzzFeed, Facebook facilitated more than just Duterte's presidency. It also provided a platform for attacks against Duterte's political opponents and helped ratchet up support for the president's brutal "war on drugs" that has resulted in the killing of more than 12,000 Filipinos to date.
"If you want to know what happens to a country that has opened itself entirely to Facebook, look to the Philippines. What happened there — what continues to happen there — is both an origin story for the weaponization of social media and a peek at its dystopian future. It’s a society where, increasingly, the truth no longer matters, propaganda is ubiquitous, and lives are wrecked and people die as a result — half a world away from the Silicon Valley engineers who’d promised to connect their world," writes Davey Alba, a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News.