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News & politics

Disinformation and 'fake news'

(29 Posts)
MaizieD Mon 18-Feb-19 12:33:59

The House of Commons committee on Digital Culture, Media and Sport has just released its report on its inquiry into 'Disinformation and 'fake news'.

I haven't yet read the report, but this twitter thread highlights some of its findings.

(Steve Peers, the writer of the tweets, is Professor of EU, Human Rights & World Trade Law, University of Essex.)

Ever since the revelations of targeted adverts on social media, the role of Cambridge Analytica in the referendum campaign and the distinct possibility of foreign influence on voters I have been very concerned about the threat posed to democracy by the spreading of information, propaganda and lies by ways that mean that not everyone has the potential to be able to see what is being said and thus there is little or no opportunity for alternative views to be given and lies to be refuted.

From this report it is apparent that I'm not the only person in the UK who thinks this.

The full report can be found here:

M0nica Mon 18-Feb-19 13:32:33

There was an interesting interview on the Radio today about this and the rise of conspiracy theories.

They stated discussing the rise in the number of people who believe the earth is flat. The interviewee, said the problem is the way internet and search engine providers analyse what sites you visit and immediately list similar sites. So if someone visits a site advocating that the earth is flat, they will be given references to sites also advocating that the world is flat but not any who put an alternative view, so that they get a distorted and one sided view of this belief.

POGS Mon 18-Feb-19 13:59:37

There is nothing new about fake news/disinformation but the rise in social media and overtly political propaganda sites has been recognised by many but governments have been slow to react.

Lord knows even on Gransnet some posters have banged on about fake news/ disinformation for years and called out links to sites that are known to be political propaganda machines or using fake news/disinformation.

MaizieD Mon 18-Feb-19 14:07:27

I wonder if the government will react to this report?

Especially as it places big question marks over the conduct of the EU referendum.

varian Mon 18-Feb-19 19:53:32

Most of the statements made by the Leave campaign before the EU referendum were, in fact, fake news - ie lies.

MaizieD Tue 19-Feb-19 10:04:36

There's a petition to sign asking for government to: 'Undertake an independent enquiry into the role of Russia in Brexit'.

Jane10 Tue 19-Feb-19 10:09:25

Yes. I wish people would stop calling it 'fake news'. Its good old fashioned lies!

POGS Tue 19-Feb-19 10:32:19

I would sign a petition asking the UK government to look into the possibility of Russian Meddling into the last 2 UK General Elections.

GrannyGravy13 Tue 19-Feb-19 11:11:30

It's not just the Russians, the Chinese tech company Huawei (spelling?) is banned in USA, Australia & New Zealand together with a couple of other countries.

The reason being they fear that there is a "back door" in their system which enables them to gather information. It was on the BBC 10pm news.

RosieLeah Tue 19-Feb-19 13:56:11

POGS, that's interesting...the intention would seem to be to weaken our country. Certainly the darker elements of society are taking advantage of police cut-backs and general lack of law-enforcement. Another reason for leaving the EU, because the decline in standards, security lapses and increase in crime have escalated since we came under the umbrella of the EU with it's 'Human Rights' rubbish coming before common sense.

Anja Tue 19-Feb-19 14:30:13

I reported a really nasty, inaccurate racist post to FB. One of those that’s all fancy colours, pictures and misspellings.

They just sent a proforma reply and had no interest in taking it down.

I have, of course, unfriended the sender. It’s amazing what you learn about some people through Facebook, even ones who are ‘professionals’ and seem ok on the surface.

Anja Tue 19-Feb-19 14:32:33

Yes, there is the ‘fake news’ that originates from the political end of the spectrum. I’m also upset by that which seeps in from extremists, especially the very far right in the US.

notanan2 Tue 19-Feb-19 15:48:17

I think its about "echo chambers"

In the past you had to socialise with people who lived near you and that moderated your beliefs somewhat because you were geographically thrown together with your social group and they didnt necessarily always agree with you.

Now. You can find "like minded" people online, and "block" people who disagree with you.

So... the "fake news" isnt challenged. You can rattle around in virtual groups that affirm your tendencies. Then it snowballs. All you hear is proof that your belief is correct. You dont need to engage with people who disagree.

notanan2 Tue 19-Feb-19 15:52:18

The other problem is that the extreme groups call science/facts/GOOD reporting "fake news" too so its an unhelpful divisive term

It basically means neither side is willing to sit down and listen to each other. Both bleating "ha ha that's fake news you fool" at the other.

varian Tue 19-Feb-19 16:03:35

Children and young people today are growing up in a globalised world and are processing information from a wider variety of sources than ever before. They need the critical literacy skills to navigate the potential pitfalls when consuming news, particularly when using online sources and social media.

But the final report from the Commission on Fake News and the Teaching of Critical Literacy Skills in Schools, published on 13 June 2018, found that only 2% of children and young people in the UK have the critical literacy skills they need to tell if a news story is real or fake. It also found that almost two-thirds of teachers believe fake news is harming children’s well-being by increasing levels of anxiety, damaging their self-esteem and skewing their world view.

The online proliferation of fake news is also making children trust the news less. Almost half of older children get their news from websites and social media, yet only a quarter of these children actually trust online sources of news. The report also found that half of teachers feel that the national curriculum does not equip children with the literacy skills they need to identify fake news, and a third feel the critical literacy skills taught in schools are not transferable to the real world.

If only 2% of children can spot fake news, I wonder how many adults can.

notanan2 Tue 19-Feb-19 16:12:46

I dont think its age specific.

I was disgusted by the most recent Unison magazine. A "youth" edition, that basically said that old people believe what the media tell them whereas younger people question what they're told unless presumably theyre falling for divisive labour propaganda from Unison

So I think the idea that other generations are more susceptible than "us" is just more "fake news" in itself

Older people are targeted and told how gullible youths are and youths are targeted and told how gullible we are and its all a ploy to stop people from talking to other people who might challenge their views!

notanan2 Tue 19-Feb-19 16:14:53

Telling us that other generations are the fake news followers not us is just a way to keep us all in our little echo chambers. Which is where they want us.

notanan2 Tue 19-Feb-19 16:44:45

To make fake news stick you gotta split people into groups. Flatter that group and tell them why they are the only ones who recognise the truth. Tell them that other groups will disagree with them because they are sheep and that other peoples news is the fake news, how clever of you to believe us not them!. Put them together with other people you have spun the same story to so that gives it credibility, and also a group with a sense of purpose and justice or anger.

Go to the opposite demographic, target similar lies to their demographic...

Its the same method as grooming and radicalisation. It works and noone is too clever and immune

POGS Tue 19-Feb-19 16:51:10

notanan 2

That is the old ' Divide and Rule ' ploy that has found it's feet again over the past 2/3 years.

Whether it be setting young against old, using class warfare, setting colour against colour etc. this has become the bedrock for certain politicians and political propagandists.

I agree with your point that you crossed through wholeheartedly.

varian Wed 20-Feb-19 13:45:41

Ultra brexiter Telegraph correspondant Camilla Tominey has been forced to apologise for spreading fake news. She had claimed that "61% of Labour voters supported brexit" when, in fact, according to BBC fact checkers 65% of Labour voters supported REMAINING in the EU.

This lie has been repeated many times by the quitters. It may have been true that the majority of Labour seats were "leave" but the fact is that most Labour voters, most Labour Party members and most Labour MPs supported remaining in the EU, a fact often denied by the brexiters and ignored by Corbyn.

varian Sat 23-Feb-19 11:01:26

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has published its final report on Disinformation and ‘fake news’.

Regulator given powers to launch legal action against companies breaching code

Government to reform current electoral communications laws and rules on overseas involvement in UK elections

Social media companies obliged to take down known sources of harmful content, including proven sources of disinformation.

Further finds that:

Electoral law ‘not fit for purpose’

Facebook intentionally and knowingly violated both data privacy and anti-competition laws

Alexa Sat 23-Feb-19 11:14:50

I was taught how to identify reliable sources for historiographies. Is there a way to identify lying reportage sources?

varian Sun 24-Feb-19 18:54:03

A prosecution against Boris Johnson for ‘lies’ told during his Brexit campaign has moved a step closer after legal papers were lodged.

varian Sun 24-Feb-19 18:55:46

Here's an A to Z list of Brexit lies

varian Thu 28-Feb-19 15:17:31

It did not take long for the analysis of voting in the 2016 referendum to demonstrate conclusively that fake news was a key factor.

"Fake news handed Brexiteers the referendum – and now they have no idea what they're doing. Would we have won without immigration? No. Would we have won without...the NHS? All our research and the close result strongly suggests no. Would we have won by spending our time talking about trade and the single market? No way'"

Since then, of course we have learned much more about the lies and illegalities of the campaign to leave, the involvement of foreign powers, foreign money, media moguls with their own agenda and the covert activities of firms like Cambridge Analytica. The challenge would be to avoid the same malign forces influencing a People's Vote.