COLLEGE PARK (4/22/19) — Professor Dana Priest and the PBS team behind “The Facebook Dilemma” documentary have won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting’s top prize.

Priest, the John S. and James L. Knight Chair in Public Affairs Journalism at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism, spent six months investigating the social media giant’s rise and global impact, asking whether the network was more helpful than harmful.

The documentary aired last fall on “Frontline.”

“This in-depth investigation into the Silicon Valley giant reveals a corporation that willfully ignored warnings and shirked responsibility as it reveled in global success, exploiting user data and sowing social and political unrest in the process,” an announcement on the Peabody Awards website said.

“This may have seemed new to Americans in 2016, but it was not new,” Priest said of Facebook being used to spread disinformation during the U.S. presidential campaign.

It wasn’t new to Facebook either, she said. Through reporting conducted with her students at Merrill College, Priest already “knew Facebook had been used in Ukraine and the Baltics in a terrible way, and Facebook hadn’t done anything about it.”

Priest, an investigative reporter at The Washington Post and two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, said most reaction to the documentary has been surprise. Future reporting on Facebook could be even more enlightening.

“I think there’s more to do,” she said.

For more information, contact:
Alexander A. Pyles
aapyles@umd.edu
301-405-1321