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Truth, Trust and Technology

A lecture given to the NATO Defense College about the LSE Truth, Trust and Technology Commission. The Commission is examining the crisis in public information, fake news, and interference in elections.

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Truth, Trust and Technology

  1. 1. Truth, Trust and Technology: strategic communication in the misinformation age Prof Charlie Beckett LSE NATO College, Rome 2018
  2. 2. Goals of strategic communication for NATO •Understanding •Influence •Change •‘Environmental’ • external, internal, data, policy, role • public, authorities, experts, media • perception, elections, funding, military, security, diplomatic • Evidence, accountability, record, objectivity
  3. 3. NATO strat comms problems •Lack of political and public support •Specific propaganda effects •General undermining of support for values and purpose •Information abundance and diversity •‘Post-truth’ relativism that hinders information deliberation
  4. 4. What did you need to know today?
  5. 5. Is my flight home delayed?
  6. 6. What’s the latest on #Brexit?
  7. 7. What is the latest Hammers ‘news’?
  8. 8. Mixed news media – but all networked • Traditional ‘legacy’media • Social news media • Social networks/platforms
  9. 9. News becomes personal • Social sharing • Email newsletters • Topic selection ‘My FT’ • Facebook algorithms • Personalised search • News aggregators • Facebook/Twitter feeds • Artificial intelligence • News bots • Gamification
  10. 10. Global networked news war
  11. 11. Disinformation: the four Ds Images from
  12. 12. Not just Facebook and not just elections
  13. 13. Bot wars: polarising, fomenting
  14. 14. It’s not just social media
  15. 15. Post-Truth? 1. Over abundance of information creates confusion 2. Fact-checking is limited 3. Algorithms struggle to filter, platforms incentivise for attention not accuracy
  16. 16. Trust 1. Deference is gone, welcome scepticism? 2. Transparency is vital, but just the start 3. Filter bubble or community? 4. Real problem is curation, connection, personalisation
  17. 17. Trust signalling
  18. 18. Fake news is good news for reality-based news media
  19. 19. Zuckerberg cover photos
  20. 20. What do you do about a problem like Facebook? 1. Regulate? 2. Break them up? 3. Algorithmic accountability: what principles for the platforms? 4. Platform/publisher relations: putting public first
  21. 21. Getting worse before it gets better? 1. Governments, corporations, lobby groups now investing in information manipulation 2. New channels, platforms and networks will provide fresh distribution outlets for misinformation 3. Failure to address systematic problem means we treat symptoms not structural challenges: remember the banking crisis?
  22. 22. It is networked
  23. 23. What should public organisations and journalists do? • Transparency is the online currency of trust • Interactivity is key to engagement • Be on all the platforms, all the time • Be strategic about who you want to influence (niche, mass, switchers, nodes) • Be strategic about why you want to influence (behaviour change, opinion forming, media space)
  24. 24. What should societies do? • Regulate? • Build public service media capacity • Increase media literacy • Open data • More research
  25. 25. Truth, Trust and Technology: a new agenda for the crisis in public information @Charlie Beckett