Rappler is an online news website based in the Philippines with a bureau in Jakarta, Indonesia. It started as a Facebook page named MovePH in August 2011 and later evolved into a complete website on January 1, 2012. Along with web based text news content, it was also among the first news websites in the Philippines to extensively use online multimedia including video, pictures, text and audio. It also uses social media sites for news distribution.
|Founded||January 1, 2012|
Marites Dañguilan Vitug
|Maria Ressa (Editor-in-chief)|
|Revenue||PHP139.47 million (FY 2015)|
|PHP-38.35 million (FY 2015)|
|Owner||Rappler Holdings Corporation (98.8%)|
|Parent||Rappler Holdings Corporation|
In 2018, it was the recipient of legal proceedings from arms of the Philippine government. Rappler and its staff said it was being targeted for its revelations of misappropriations by government and elected officials.
With the idea of professional journalists using social media and crowd sourcing for news distribution, Rappler was started in 2011 by Filipino journalist Maria Ressa along with her entrepreneur and journalist friends. Brainstorming for the company began some time in 2010 when Maria Ressa was writing her second book "From Bin Laden to Facebook". Other key people involved in its conceptualization and creation were former Newsbreak head and ABS-CBN News Channel managing editor Glenda Gloria, journalist and Ateneo De Manila University professor Chay Hofileña, former TV Patrol executive producer Lilibeth Frondoso, Philippine internet pioneer Nix Nolledo, internet entrepreneur Manuel I. Ayala and former Nation Broadcasting Corporation executive Raymund Miranda.
Rappler first went public as a beta version website on January 1, 2012, the same day that the Philippine Daily Inquirer published a Rappler piece that broke out the story of (then) Philippine Chief Justice Renato Corona being awarded a University of Santo Tomas doctoral degree without a required dissertation. The site officially launched at its #MoveManila event at the Far Eastern University in Manila on January 12, 2012.
Coverage of fake news campaigns in the Philippines
In 2016, Rappler began to be critical of the Duterte led government of the Philippines, who had just taken office in 2016 and his controversial war on drugs after it noticed a trend of fake news related to him in media outlets of the state and private entities, and being spread on facebook. On 11 January 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission revoked Rappler's license to operate as a "mass media" entity, for allegedly violating the Constitution's Foreign Equity Restrictions in Mass Media by being wholly foreign-owned. Rappler then sought a petition for review from the Court of Appeals on 28 January, but was rejected on 26 July 2018, finding no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the SEC. Many journalistic organizations and committees saw the act as intimidation and attempt to silence the opposition, and control freedom of the press.
On October 26, 2017, Rappler became a member of the Poynter Institute's International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN). This led to Facebook tapping Rappler and Vera Files in April 2018 to be its Philippine partners in its worldwide fact-checking program, in part because of their participation in the IFCN. Under the program, false news stories will appear lower on users' news feeds and lower the chances of people seeing those stories. The program, according to a Facebook executive, "is one of the ways we hope to better identify and reduce the reach of false news that people share on our platform." A spokesperson for the Philippine government backed the fact-checking program but protested Facebook's partnership with Rappler.
2018 ownership controversy and revocation of certificate of incorporation
On January 11, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission of the Philippines (SEC) revoked Rappler's certificate of incorporation over Rappler's use of Philippine Depository Receipts (PDRs). It said that the provisions of the PDR issued to Omidyar Network by Rappler gave the American investment firm control over the local media firms' other PDR holders as well as its corporate policies, which the SEC says is a violation of the Constitution's provisions on foreign ownership and control. Rappler claimed that it was 100% Filipino owned and that Omidyar only invests in the media firm. Despite the certificate revocation, SEC stated that Rappler could still operate since their decision was not final, pointing out that the media firm could also challenge the decision before the Court of Appeals within 15 days. Malacañang Palace also suggested that Rappler authors can still continue to publish on their website as bloggers. On February 28, Omidyar Network donated its Rappler PDRs to the editors and executives of Rappler.
Rappler stated that the revocation of Rappler's certificate was an attack against the freedom of the press. The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) and the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) said the SEC ruling is part of a pattern of restricting criticism. The National Press Club of the Philippines, on the other hand, supported the SEC decision.
Members of the Philippine Senate and House of Representatives issued statements of concern, describing the SEC revocation of Rappler's license as "a loss for dissenting voices and free speech", "pure harassment" and "straight out of the dictator's playbook", and an "affront on press freedom." A law advocacy group called "CenterLaw" said the move was unconstitutional since the SEC denied Rappler due process. It also said the SEC's action was "tantamount to prior restraint" of "a known critic of the government's drug war."
The Philippine government issued a statement denying such a claim, pointing out that President Rodrigo Duterte could have used the armed forces to implement Rappler's closure, as done by various foreign governments, but had not resorted to such moves. The chief presidential legal counsel defended the SEC, saying the SEC's job was simply to punish violators of the law.
A BBC News report described wider concerns about the media in the Philippines, citing how a major campaign donor of the Philippine president had earlier become majority shareholder of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, a newspaper critical of the government's war on drugs. The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility also cited verbal attacks by the Philippine president and close allies on media organizations that have released critical reports on the government. The National Bureau of Investigation of the Philippines subpoenaed Ressa and a former Rappler reporter on January 18, 2018, in connection with an online libel complaint filed by private entrepreneur Wilfredo Keng. The complaint was for a 2012 article that had reported that the then Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona had been using a luxury vehicle owned by Keng. The report also claimed that Keng was involved in human trafficking.
On March 8, 2018, the National Bureau of Investigation lodged before the Department of Justice (DoJ) a cyber libel complaint against Rappler and its officers (Maria Ressa, former Rappler reporter Reynaldo Santos, Jr. who wrote the story, and directors and officers Manuel Ayala, Nico Jose Nolledo, Glenda Gloria, James Bitanga, Felicia Atienza, Dan Albert de Padua and Jose Maria G. Hofilena) in connection with a news article published in 2012 wherein citing in the complaint stated that “Unlike published materials on print, defamatory statements online, such as those contained in the libelous article written and published by subjects, [are]indubitably considered as a continuing crime until and unless the libelous article is actually removed or taken down. Otherwise, the same is a continuing violation of Section 4 (c) (4) of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012”.
On the same date, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) filed criminal and tax evasion charges against Rappler Holdings Corp. before the Department of Justice (DoJ) for evading P133 million in taxes. Rappler's petition for review regarding SEC's decision was subsequently rejected by the Court of Appeals on 26 July 2018, finding no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the SEC.
Arrest of Ressa
On December 3, 2018, an arrest warrant for Rappler's founder Maria Ressa was sent to the Pasig police station, for omissions in VAT (value added tax) filings of Rappler. Ressa was arrested on February 13, 2019. The arrest was criticized by the international community. As one of the only media organizations in the Philippines that is openly critical of Duterte, many saw the arrest of Rappler's CEO as being politically motivated. On March 29, 2019, Ressa was arrested again upon her arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport from an overseas trip. The warrant of arrest was issued by the Pasig Regional Trial Court Branch 265 against Ressa in connection with the case she and members of Rappler's 2016 board are facing for alleged violation of the Anti-Dummy Law.
Mood Meter feature
"Mood Meter" is a web widget embedded on each of Rappler's blogs and articles. It appears as colored bubbles showing the way people react to Rappler's stories. Readers are prompted to choose their response from eight different emotional reactions. The ten stories that received the most reactions in the last 48-hour period would appear on the Mood Navigator.
The Rappler Mood Meter, which is similar to Facebook Reactions, won the Bronze Medal for Brand Experience at the 2012 Boomerang Awards sponsored by the Internet Media Marketing Association of the Philippines (IMMAP).
As of 2017, Rappler is owned primarily by Rappler Holdings Corporation, which is in turn owned by Dolphin Fire Group (31.21%), Maria Ressa (23.77%), Hatchd Group (17.86%), Benjamin So (17.86%), and 9.3 percent of minority shares.
|Ownership of Rappler Holdings|
|Philippine Depository Receipts (PDR) issued by Rappler|
|264,601||May 29, 2015||NBM Rappler*|
|11,764,117||July 29, 2015|
|7,217,257||October 2, 2015||Omidyar Network|
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- Media Ownership Monitor Philippines Online by Vera Files and Reporters Without Borders