Alexander Rubinstein and Max Blumenthal write about eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, in “How One of America’s Premier Data Monarchs is Funding a Global Information War and Shaping the Media Landscape”.
With offices in Washington, Silicon Valley, and six foreign countries, the Omidyar Network propagates the neoliberal ideology of its billionaire namesake through “impact investing” and a “property rights” initiative. Outside the U.S., the Omidyar Network funds an array of foreign media outlets, like Ukraine’s Hromadske and the Philippines-based Rappler, that have participated in pro-Western information warfare-style campaigns against rogue governments. In Zimbabwe, where the Omidyar Network supports a series of oppositional youth organizing initiatives through the Magambe Network, an Omidyar employee was arrested, accused of attempting to stir up a revolt through online organizing, and ultimately released (the incident is detailed later in this article). This February 12, Rappler editor-in-chief Maria Ressa was arrested as well, accused of “cyber-libel” by the Filipino government for a 2012 article. The Omidyar Network and the Omidyar-funded Committee to Protect Journalists have set up a $500,000 legal defense fund for Ressa.
It’s no wonder then that Ressa is able to continue with Rappler‘s operations despite its inability to turn a profit and is now expanding in the digital realm through livestreaming. It has also hired Inday Espina Varona as its regional news coordinator as Rappler expands its footprint across the country. It appears that the goal is to replace ABS-CBN in the interim, more so now that the opposition needs a broadcast platform to amplify the message of its candidates in the May 2022 election.
It can be said now that Rappler is not a social news network but more of an anti-Duterte propaganda arm whose fact-checking is also biased in its favor.
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