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Truth, Trust and Technology: an agenda for the countering misinformation

A lecture setting out the problems being addressed the LSE Truth Trust and Technology Commission of 2018. It sets out the problem, the possible solutions in a conceptual framework.

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Truth, Trust and Technology: an agenda for the countering misinformation

  1. 1. Truth, Trust and Technology: a new agenda for the crisis in public information Charlie Beckett 2018
  2. 2. Has the world gone mad?
  3. 3. Are we in a post-truth world?
  4. 4. Loss of confidence in ‘truth’ of news • Overall, Americans believe 39% of the news they see on television, read in newspapers or hear on the radio is misinformation. They estimate that nearly two-thirds of the news they see on social media is misinformation. • (Gallup/Knight Foundation June 2018)
  5. 5. Loss of confidence in ‘truth’ in news • Overall, Americans believe 62% of the news they see on television, read in newspapers and hear on the radio is biased. They are much more inclined to see news on social media as biased, estimating that 80% of the news they see there is biased. • Americans tend to think the majority of news reporting is accurate, but they still believe a substantial percentage of it, 44%, is inaccurate. They think 64% of news on social media is inaccurate. • More than eight in 10 U.S. adults report being angry or bothered by seeing biased information. A slightly greater proportion of Americans — more than nine in 10 — get angry or bothered by inaccurate information.
  6. 6. Panic in Phoenix
  7. 7. 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
  8. 8. Four topic strands •Journalism credibility •Platform responsibility •Online political communications (‘Democracy’) •Media citizenship (‘Media Literacy’)
  9. 9. Work-plan • Workshops • Public Events • Research and initiative review • Blog • Information hub • Report autumn 2018 • Afterwards?
  10. 10. Project questions and goals • What are the key strategic challenges: opportunities and obstacles? • Where are key areas of innovation and intervention? • What are the best (or worst) practices? • Can we critically examine assumptions? • Can we critically assess policy and practice? • What is the public value and social impact of media change? • What is the public interest?
  11. 11. Truth: what is the problem? 1. Over abundance of information creates confusion 2. Complexity of issues, diversity of sources and perspectives – filter bubble or community? 3. Understanding instinctive, emotional, personal responses 4. Confusion between real world and media problems 5. Learning to live in a multi-truth world
  12. 12. Trust: can you measure it?
  13. 13. Trust: what is it and why do we want it? 1. Deference is gone, welcome scepticism? 2. Transparency is vital, but how is it operationalised? 3. Why do we want people to trust authority? 4. How is ‘trust’ earned? Signals, codes, regulation, diversity, competition, accountability? 5. Learning to live in a low-trust world
  14. 14. Technology 1. All platforms are not the same 2. What is different about the GAFA? 3. How do you ‘regulate’ for public good without reducing public benefit? 4. Algorithmic accountability: what principles for the platforms? 5. How do we put public interest at the centre of the platforms operations?
  15. 15. Shall we? • Ask the platforms to remove offensive or harmful content? • Ask the platforms to promote credible, quality content? • Fine the platforms if they allow misinformation? (Germany) • Ban all political advertising online? (France) • Force everyone to be identified online? • Create a super-regulator for social media or the Internet? • Break up the platform ‘monopolies’ with anti-trust laws? • Tax the platforms to pay for quality news media and media literacy projects?
  16. 16. Do nothing? (about media, at least) • The real problems are about inequality, economic disruption and societal fragmentation and alienation. Sort those out first. • Competition of ideas means that the public (and business, politicians, and civil society) will turn to reliable, credible, sources. Promote that competition, don’t destroy innovation and diversity • We need to invest in better education, literacy, effective transparency, and better journalism – pay for that instead of control • The citizen needs to take responsibility. We’ve been here before, the cycle will turn.
  17. 17. Danish strategy • 1. Inter-governmental task force drawing on experiences from abroad • 2. strengthened monitoring of disinformation in the media directed at Denmark 3. strengthen focus on hostile foreign actors targeting Denmark with influence campaigns • 4. Ministry for Economic Affairs and the Interior will in cooperation with DSIS and DDIS/The Centre for Cyber Security (CFCS) ensure that the necessary threat and vulnerability assessments are conducted in relation to the election. 5. increased focus on threats posed by potential foreign influence.. 6. offer all political parties eligible to be elected to Parliament counselling on the risk of foreign influence. 7. invite all political party leaders to a meeting to inform about the risk of foreign influence 8. The Government will invite representatives from the media to a dialogue on possible models for cooperation on countering potential foreign attempts to influence the upcoming parliamentary elections. 9. The Government will invite representatives from prevalent social media platforms to a dialogue on possible models for cooperation on countering potential foreign attempts to influence the upcoming parliamentary elections. • 10. The Government will invite media with public service obligations to a dialogue on models for cooperation to raise awareness about the threat amongst the population. 11. The Government will present a bill to ensure that the criminal code is up to date
  18. 18. Enjoy the ride – I intend to.
  19. 19. Prof Charlie Beckett Dept of Media and Comms, LSE Director, Polis, LSE Director, LSE Truth, Trust and Technology Commission @CharlieBeckett