Wallace House Presents: Davey Alba & Ceren Budak

Wed, 01/29/2020 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm

Annenberg Auditorium, Weill Hall

Duterte’s Facebook-Fueled Rise to Power: Manipulating Public Opinion to Capture an Election


In 2018, journalist Davey Alba traveled to the Philippines to investigate Facebook’s breakneck proliferation in that country and President Rodrigo Duterte’s rise to power. She revealed how the politician’s incendiary style aligned perfectly with the tech company’s algorithms that reward entertaining, inflammatory content. From maligning opponents to espousing hardline policies to combat the drug trade, Duterte’s operatives created memes, propaganda and egregious libel that flourished on Facebook. Join Alba and Ceren Budak, associate professor, University of Michigan, for an examination of how demagogic political campaigns worldwide have weaponized the social media platform.


Davey Alba is a reporter for The New York Times covering technology. Prior to joining the Times, she was a senior reporter at BuzzFeed News. She has been a staff writer at Wired and an editor at Popular Mechanics. Alba grew up in the Philippines and holds a B.A. degree from De La Salle University in Manila and an M.A. in science journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She received the 2019 Livingston Award for international reporting for her BuzzFeed investigation "How Duterte Used Facebook to Fuel the Philippine Drug War.


Ceren Budak is an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Information and the College of Engineering. Her research interests lie in the area of computational social science, a discipline at the intersection of computer science, statistics and the social sciences.  Previously, she was a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft Research New York. Budak received a Ph.D. from the computer science department at University of California, Santa Barbara and a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Bilkent University in Turkey.


This Livingston Lecture event is co-sponsored by the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and the Science, Technology and Public Policy Program.

This event is produced with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.