'People are being emotionally manipulated for profit' — Maria Ressa

Nobel laureate Maria Ressa has warned against information warfare as people are now being emotionally manipulated for profit and other motives.

That is done through tech giants and social media companies that are being exploited because tech is "the least regulated industry globally," Ressa said at a media forum organized by the British Embassy in Manila Wednesday night.

Tech companies spread lies six times faster, Ressa warned, adding "information integrity is impossible online."

Thus, the upcoming local elections in the Philippines are crucial amid the lack of regulations on campaigning in social media. Some politicians are using the flaws of tech companies for their advantage, like what happened during the 2016 elections.

"This is something where the Philippines has led the way, (in terms of) our experiences here, in 2016," Ressa said.

For the Nobel laureate, the upcoming elections "is going to be worse."

Ressa and her group initiated a program to fight against disinformation being spread in the virtual world. 

What she and the group did was to assemble and organize 149 people from different groups of society to become storytellers of truth. It is a whole of society approach, she said.

They come from four layers of society. First is from news organizations. Second is from civil and human rights organizations as well as from the business and religious groups. Third is from academic institutions. And the last is from legal groups.

"We tied them all up with a data pipeline that we needed storytellers to turn the data into stories. And what happened? We mapped everything that's happening online and we clustered into four groups," she said.

"The first, those who cluster around news. The second, those who cluster around activists. The third, those who cluster around artists. And the fourth, those who cluster around faith, and what we're seeing globally is that religion is a huge force," she added.

Ressa said there is a need to build their "own tech" and organize themselves in the real world.

Why? She said: "There's nothing else to do. Otherwise, you are going to be manipulated."