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Nobel Peace Laureate Fil-American Maria Ressa Calls for Reform of Social Media Platforms

INTERNATIONAL: Nobel Peace Prize laureates Filipino-American Maria Ressa and Russian Dmitry Muratov, recognised for their fight for freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia, have received their awards at a ceremony in Oslo on Friday, 10 December, despite Norway's high rate of COVID-19. They were both awarded the prize in recognition of their fights to defend freedom of expression.

Receiving the award at Oslo City Hall, Ressa who is the co-founder of news site Rappler, has reiterated her call for reform of social media platforms. She has asked the U.S. to reform or revoke section 230, the law that treats social media platforms like utilities. It's not a comprehensive solution but it gets the ball rolling. She has mentioned that by giving the nobel peace prize to journalists today, in which she was grateful,the Nobel committee is signalling a similar historical moment, another existential point for democracy.

Ressa and Muratov are the first journalists to receive the Nobel prize since Germany's Carl von Ossietzky won the 1935 award for revealing his country's secret rearmament programme.

Maria Ressa says the greatest need today is to transform the hate and violence, the toxic sludge that's coursing through our information ecosystem prioritised by American internet companies that make more money by spreading that hate and triggering the worst in us. She has attacked US internet companies for what she called a "flood of toxic sludge" on social media.

During her acceptance speech in Norway, Maria Ressa has mentioned technology giants had "allowed a virus of lies to infect each of us".

Maria Ressa, co-founder of the news site Rappler, has accused sites such as Facebook of profiting from spreading hate.The 58-year-old was addressing guests at a ceremony in the capital, Oslo.She went on to accuse US internet giants of being "biased against facts and journalists" and of using their "God-like power" to sow division.

"Our greatest need today is to transform that hate and violence, the toxic sludge that's coursing through our information ecosystem," she boldly said.

Facebook's parent company, Meta, has recently announced that it was introducing new features to give people more control over what appears in their news feeds. The social network has been under intense scrutiny in recent years for how its algorithms promote content.

Russia's top independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta chief editor,Mr Muratov, 60, has urged guests at the ceremony to observe a minute's silence for journalists killed in the course of their work, and said the profession was going through "a dark time" in Russia.

He said more than 100 journalists, media outlets, human rights defenders and NGOs had recently been branded "foreign agents" by Russia's justice ministry. "In Russia, this means one thing - 'enemies of the people'." Mr Muratov has for decades defended freedom of speech in Russia. He said journalists had lost their jobs, been forced to leave the country and "deprived of the opportunity to live a normal life".

When he was announced as a winner of the Nobel prize in August, the Kremlin congratulated Mr. Muratov, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov describing him as "talented" and "brave".

Both journalists are known for investigations that have angered their countries' rulers and both have faced threats as a result of this.

Last year's laureate went to the World Food Programme and its director-general, also attended the Oslo ceremony on Friday. He called for an end to famine, warning of nations would be destabilised and mass migration would follow if the problem was not effectively tackled.

The ceremony at Oslo City Hall was held with fewer guests than planned due to government restrictions put in place this week. Norway reported record daily COVID-19 infections on Thursday.

In Sweden, where infection rates are lower than in Norway, organisers in September cancelled the in-person Nobel ceremonies for the second year running.Instead, the 2021 laureates in Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, Literature and Economics, prizes all awarded in Sweden, received their diplomas and medals in their home countries, while the traditional Nobel lectures have all given online.

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