Fighting back against prolific online harassment in the Philippines

Fighting back against prolific online harassment in the Philippines

June 29, 2017 3.57pm AEST

The experience of journalists like Maria Ressa is all too common. EPA/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

Disclosure statement

Julie Posetti has previously received funding from the Australian Government for journalism education initiatives. She was also contracted to produce a global study for UNESCO titled Protecting Journalism Sources in the Digital Age (2017: UNESCO, Paris). She is also a member of the MEAA.


University of Wollongong provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU.

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In the past decade, more than 800 journalists have been killed in the course of their work according to UNESCO, while hundreds more have been assaulted, imprisoned or harassed.

The nature of the threat is changing as the virtual world spills into the physical. The experiences of Filipino journalist Maria Ressa show how reporters now face targeted online harassment campaigns designed to discredit and silence them.

Maria Ressa is a former CNN war correspondent but none of her experiences in the field prepared her for the destructive campaign of gendered online harassment that’s been directed at her since the election of President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016.

“I’ve been called ugly, a dog, a snake, threatened with rape and murder,” she says. How many times has she received online death threats? She’s lost count. “Gosh, there have been so many!”

A journalist with more than 30 years experience, Ressa is the founding CEO and executive editor of the social media-powered news organisation Rappler, based in the Philippines

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