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For this week’s podcast, We’ve got two interrelated interviews:
First up is Julia Carrie Wong, Senior technology reporter for the Guardian based in Silicon Valley. This week, she published a series of articles based on interviews and documents from Sophie Zhang, a Facebook whistleblower who came forward to reveal how the social media company has repeatedly allowed world leaders and politicians to use its platform to deceive the public or harass opponents.
The second interview is with Maria Ressa. She is co-founder, President & CEO of Rappler, the top digital only news site that leads the fight for press freedom in the Philippines. She has endured constant political harassment and arrests by the Duterte government, and still has to fight to stay free. Rappler’s battle for truth and democracy is the subject of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival documentary, A Thousand Cuts. Maria has a 35 year career in journalism. For her work on disinformation, Maria was named Time Magazine’s 2018 Person of the Year, was among its 100 Most Influential People of 2019, and has also been named one of the publication’s Most Influential Women of the Century.
I caught up with Maria the morning after she had herself done an interview- with former US Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. We talked about that- and from there got into a range of issues, including her perspective on how we will need to come together to build new collaborations and institutions to deal with the advent of social media just as we did for another technology that changed geopolitics- nuclear weapons.
Justin Hendrix is CEO and Editor of Tech Policy Press, a new nonprofit media venture concerned with the intersection of technology and democracy. Previously, he was Executive Director of NYC Media Lab. He spent over a decade at The Economist in roles including Vice President, Business Development & Innovation. He is an associate research scientist and adjunct professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Opinions expressed here are his own.