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Have I got fake news for you!


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Slides from the talk I gave at the Bath Digital Festival. The talk covered the rise of fake news and misinformation, how technology companies such as Facebook and Google provide the infrastructure and incentives (including the science of attention) for its creation and the role human nature plays in helping fake news spread. The thrust of the talk is this: we have easier access to information than ever before but are we becoming more ignorant as a result?

Published in: Technology
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Have I got fake news for you!

  1. 1. What percentage of Google search traffic goes to the first page of search results? 50%, 75%, 90% Within how many seconds do users make a judgement about a web page? 10 seconds, 20s, 30s What percentage of people will share links without reading beyond the headline? 20%, 40%, 60% A quick quiz
  2. 2. “Pundits and MPs kept saying ‘why isn’t Leave arguing about the economy and living standards’. They did not realise that for millions of people, £350m/NHS was about the economy and living standards – that’s why it was so effective. It was clearly the most effective argument not only with the crucial swing fifth but with almost every demographic. Even with UKIP voters it was level-pegging with immigration. Would we have won without immigration? No. Would we have won without £350m/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.” Vote Leave director, Dominic Cummings
  3. 3. A bit about me Run content and communications agency Publish LearnPatch Publish From Scratch Podcast
  4. 4. From fact to opinion to . . . ? Jeremy Corbyn tells Theresa May and EU leaders to stop posturing The Guardian Ditch neoliberalism to win again, Jeremy Corbyn tells Europe’s centre-left parties The Independent 'COMRADES!' Corbyn calls on Europe's centre-left to quit neoliberalism in socialist speech Daily Express
  5. 5. Is greater access to knowledge making us more ignorant? Does this devalue knowledge? And is this restricting our understanding of the world and each other?
  6. 6. We are going to cover . . . The scale of the misinformation problem Why we should care What we can do about it
  7. 7. There are lies and there is fakery “Someone who lies and someone who tells the truth are playing on opposite sides, so to speak, in the same game. Each responds to the facts as he understands them, although the response of the one is guided by the authority of the truth, while the response of the other defies that authority, and refuses to meet its demands. “The bullshitter ignores these demands altogether. He does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.” Harry Frankfurt, On Bullshit
  8. 8. So what are we talking about? Lies Untruths Hoaxes Bullshit Fake news Post-truth Misinformation
  9. 9. Big problem? 6 Russia-linked Facebook pages: posts shared 340 million times Fake news headlines about the US election fooled American adults about 75% of the time.
  10. 10. Have we created a monster? Distribution is free Audiences are vast No need to worry about the law - there’s too much fakery to police There’s money to be made Facebook and Google predicted to make $106 billion from advertising in 2017, almost half of world's digital ad spend Justin Coler earns $30,000/month running fake news sites
  11. 11. Are we in their hands?
  12. 12. Why we should care Credit: Elisa Riva
  13. 13. Because we are wowed by tech How has tech made your life better? Question
  14. 14. Because we are lazy
  15. 15. Because we trust official sources less “I think people in this country have had enough of experts.” Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  16. 16. Because we trust official sources less 6 in 10 people believe search engines over human editors 53% do not listen to people or organisations with whom they often disagree Peers are now as credible as experts Edelman Trust Barometer 2017
  17. 17. Because we are swayed by others
  18. 18. What can you do about it? Stop and think before you share Seek out a different perspective Find the source of quoted data Be a healthy sceptic Lead by example
  19. 19. What can you do about it? Seek out the alternative view
  20. 20. Tools
  21. 21. More from me @martincouzins