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Jamie Bartlett @JamieJBartlett
, 16 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
The BBC is running a 'fake news week'. To mark the occasion, I thought I'd do a thread. 'Fake news' is a very unhelpful term, which describes at least three different problems, which have three different solutions. #Thread
There is monetised fabrication. People knowingly pumping out rubbish ('The Pope supports Trump') because it's a way of making money through Facebook / Google's ad-revenue model. My colleague @carljackmiller covered it brilliantly here for @BBCClick…
This is driven in part by programmatic advertising: ad-tech follow USERS around, and advertise on sites they visit, irrespective of how truthful it is. This is where tech solutions CAN work - ie de-rank / de-monetise etc. Some evidence that's working too.…
Then there is the knowingly false, misleading propaganda, pushed out for a specific political purpose. You all know we've always had this. (Here's the great Benjamin Franklin stirring it up against the Brits, with some made-up story about George III.…)
With the advent of powerful 'deep fake' technology - essentially making believable videos / audio or anyone saying anything - this is about to be turbo-charged. This will be even more about emotion & feeling, because that's the logic of a visual medium. (Hat-tip to Mr McCluhan)
I'm worried about too much 'tech' or government involvement here - as it could go very wrong. It's this type of fake news where I see fact checkers like @FullFact playing a key role. The hardliner won't change his mind with 'facts' -they rarely do- but the fence-sitters might.
Then there's the much bigger issue of highly partisan, one-sided, biased news. Sometimes unintentional, sometimes editorial. This is a huge grey area, and there's no technical or government or platform solution. Again, tech solutions / government intervention won't work.
The only solution is to dramatically increase media and information literacy in schools and beyond. Determining what is true and what is not - picking through bias and propaganda is perhaps the single most important thing kids must learn at school nowadays.
But media literacy must not be 'question everything' - that's the world of conspiracy theorists. Instead it's to develop a theory of epistemology. 'Why should I trust one thing over another thing'?
It should of course include tech - how algorithms work, video splicing, especially deep fakes etc - but also psychology. Even Google's algorithms are no match for our own powerful cognitive biases, which most of us aren't even aware of.
In fact, there's a fourth, slightly different issue too, which I think is perhaps more important still. I call it 'the selective omission of truth'. It is now easier than ever to surround yourself with carefully chosen TRUTHS, but which are one-sided & misleading when added up.
I looked at this in respect of Tommy Robinson in my recent book The People Vs Tech. It's very easy to create a coherent but very misleading reality, based on compiling together a series of cherry-picked truths.
And this final category of fake news is extremely difficult to tackle. We'll probably never 'solve' that problem - as long as humans are humans. The best we'll manage is to mitigate its worst effects and learn to live with it. /end
(To be fair, the BBC is calling it #beyondfakenews which is spot on)
Might interest the guys at #PS18
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