Maria Ressa ’86, whose online news organization in the Philippines, Rappler, has been under attack by President Rodrigo Duterte, brought her campaign for a free press and social-media responsibility to Princeton April 8–9. Since November, Duterte’s government has filed 11 cases against her, which she said are efforts to intimidate her.
During a lunchtime talk with students, Ressa explained how her country is “a petri dish” for demonstrating how social media can be “weaponized” to attack those who oppose authoritarian regimes. “If you want to cut the heart out of a democracy, you go after the facts,” she said. “This is the time to fight.” She said journalists have a “truth-telling role that takes tremendous courage, will, and intelligence to stand up” to those in power. The manipulation of social media is “killing democracy around the world,” Ressa said.