cover image How to Stand Up to a Dictator: The Fight for Our Future

How to Stand Up to a Dictator: The Fight for Our Future

Maria Ressa. Harper, $29.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-325751-1

Nobel Peace Prize cowinner Ressa (From Bin Laden to Facebook) delivers an outstanding memoir-cum-action plan for creating “a vision of the internet that binds us together instead of tearing us apart.” Born in the Philippines and raised and educated in New Jersey, Ressa returned to her native country in the 1980s and spent nearly two decades at CNN before cofounding the digital media organization Rappler in 2012. Her reporting on political corruption and “networks of disinformation” on Facebook and other platforms made Ressa and Rappler the targets of online threats and smear campaigns by Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte; his successor, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and their supporters, and led to her 2020 conviction for “cyberlibel” and other charges (she’s currently out on bail pending appeal). Ressa’s shock at the damage Duterte’s regime did to the rule of law in the Philippines is matched by her indignation at Facebook, a company she once believed could help foster democracy, but where “every decision became about making a profit and protecting Facebook’s interests” after Sheryl Sandberg’s arrival in 2008. Ressa’s suggestions for reform include increased cooperation among journalists; the involvement of church groups, NGOs, and other organizations in amplifying factual information; and regular reports on “how the public sphere is being manipulated.” Elegantly written yet stuffed with research data and technical details, this is an essential update on the battle against disinformation. Photos. (Nov.)