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What do we know and what can we do?
Professor Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, Director of Research
rasmus.nielsen@politics.ox.ac.uk / @rasmus_kleis
European Parliament, February 22, 2018
@risj_oxford | #DNR17 | digitalnewsreport.org
The “Fake News”
Debate
The “fake news” debate
• “F*** news” is a misleading and dangerous term, we should focus on wider
issues of for-profit and politically motivated disinformation
• The context is a change in our media (move to distributed discovery) and
trust in institutions (‘generalized scepticism’)
• “Fake news” narrowly defined has low reach online but sometimes higher
engagement on social media
• To fight disinformation, we need to (1) avoid vague and broad responses
with potentially dangerous side-effects, (2) strengthen institutions that
make our societies more resilient, and (3) pursue narrow, precisely targeted
responses to specific particularly malicious instances
“F*** News”
“F*** news”
• Is a misleading term, because much of the content we are concerned
with is not fake, (but genuine content presented out of context,
manipulated, etc.), and many of the activities involved are not news
(but sharing, trolling, etc.)
• Is a dangerous term, because the term is weaponized by some
politicians trying to undermine independent media and because “f***
news” for most ordinary citizens means something else than false
and fabricated content masquerading as news (it is associated with
poor journalism, political propaganda, and some forms of advertising)
Media and trust context
The rise of distributed discovery
Far from creating echo chambers, distributed discovery
often exposes people to more sources
RISJ Digital News Report 2017 7
People use search and social
media (and news aggregators)
tend to use more sources of news
and greater diversity of sources
than those that don’t
The effect of incidental exposure
to news on social media is
particularly clear for the young
and those least interested in news
8
“IT’S THEIR JOB … TO
REPORT THE FACTS”
Q2. You recently viewed a story with the headline X. On which of the following news websites did you read this story? If you read it on more than one, please
select all that apply. Showing share of correct brand attributions. Base: Direct 1,098/ Search 1,022/ Social 1,008 (Facebook 795, Twitter 194)
2X difference
But brand attribution is a problem …
Fewer than half can remember the news brand that produced a story when
coming from social media or search
In the era of “fake news”
only …
24%
agree social media
does a good job in
separating fact
from fiction
“PEOPLE SHARE
WITHOUT
READING THE
INFORMATION
IN THE
ARTICLE”
Female (21), USA
40%
agree the news media
does a good job in
separating fact
from fiction
“IT’S THEIR JOB TO
REPORT THE
FACTS”
“IT’S THEIR JOB … TO
REPORT THE FACTS”
In the era of “fake news”
only …
Measuring the reach of
“fake news”
Measuring the reach of false news on the web (ex.
France)
Measuring the reach of false news on social media (ex.
France)
How can we fight
disinformation?
How can we fight disinformation?
1. Be cautious of vague and broad responses with potentially dangerous
side-effects, whether in the form of new legislation restricting expression
or politically-mandated policing of acceptable speech by private companies
2. Strengthen institutions that make our societies more resilient by providing
support for private sector media, genuinely independent public service
media, open data initiatives, media and information literacy, and by
encouraging platform companies to embrace their wider responsibilities
3. Pursue narrow, precisely targeted responses to specific particularly
malicious instances, e.g. neutral and transparent steps to demonetize false
information, increased scrutiny of foreign states’ information operations
What do we know and what can we do?
Professor Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, Director of Research
rasmus.nielsen@politics.ox.ac.uk / @rasmus_kleis
European Parliament, February 22, 2018
@risj_oxford | #DNR17 | digitalnewsreport.org
The “Fake News”
Debate
Further reading
On the importance of focusing on broader problems of disinformation
Wardle, Claire, and Hossein Derakhshan. 2017. INFORMATION DISORDER: Toward an Interdisciplinary Framework for Research and Policy Making. Report to the Council of Europe.
https://shorensteincenter.org/information-disorder-framework-for-research-and-policymaking/.
On audience perspectives on “fake news”
Nielsen, Rasmus Kleis, and Lucas Graves. 2017. ““News You Don’t Believe”: Audience Perspectives on Fake News.” Oxford: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.
http://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2017-10/Nielsen%26Graves_factsheet_1710v3_FINAL_download.pdf.
On the move to distributed discovery and low trust in both news media and social media
Newman, Nic, Richard Fletcher, Antonis Kalogeropoulos, David A. L Levy, and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen. 2017. “Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2017.” Oxford: Reuters Institute for the Study of
Journalism. http://www.digitalnewsreport.org/.
Kalogeropoulos, Antonis, and Nic Newman. 2017. “‘I Saw the News on Facebook’: Brand Attribution When Accessing News from Distributed Environments.” Oxford: Reuters Institute for the Study of
Journalism. http://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2017-07/Brand%20attributions%20report.pdf.
On measuring the reach of “fake news” and online disinformation in Europe
Fletcher, Richard, Alessio Cornia, Lucas Graves, and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen. 2018. “Measuring the Reach of ‘Fake News’ and Online Disinformation in Europe.” Oxford: Reuters Institute for the Study
of Journalism. https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2018-
02/Measuring%20the%20reach%20of%20fake%20news%20and%20online%20distribution%20in%20Europe%20CORRECT%20FLAG.pdf.
On challenges and opportunities for journalism in an increasingly digital, mobile, and social media environment
Nielsen, Rasmus Kleis, Alessio Cornia, and Antonis Kalogeropoulos. 2016. “Challenges and Opportunities for News Media and Journalism in an Increasingly Digital, Mobile, and Social Media
Environment.” Commissioned Report for the Council of Europe. Oxford: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.
http://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/research/files/Challenges%2520and%2520opportunities%2520for%2520news%2520media%2520and%2520journalism%2520in%2520an%25
20increasingly%2520digital%252C%2520mobile%2520and%2520social%2520media%2520environment.pdf.

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The fake news debate - what do we know and what can we do?

  • 1. What do we know and what can we do? Professor Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, Director of Research rasmus.nielsen@politics.ox.ac.uk / @rasmus_kleis European Parliament, February 22, 2018 @risj_oxford | #DNR17 | digitalnewsreport.org The “Fake News” Debate
  • 2. The “fake news” debate • “F*** news” is a misleading and dangerous term, we should focus on wider issues of for-profit and politically motivated disinformation • The context is a change in our media (move to distributed discovery) and trust in institutions (‘generalized scepticism’) • “Fake news” narrowly defined has low reach online but sometimes higher engagement on social media • To fight disinformation, we need to (1) avoid vague and broad responses with potentially dangerous side-effects, (2) strengthen institutions that make our societies more resilient, and (3) pursue narrow, precisely targeted responses to specific particularly malicious instances
  • 4. “F*** news” • Is a misleading term, because much of the content we are concerned with is not fake, (but genuine content presented out of context, manipulated, etc.), and many of the activities involved are not news (but sharing, trolling, etc.) • Is a dangerous term, because the term is weaponized by some politicians trying to undermine independent media and because “f*** news” for most ordinary citizens means something else than false and fabricated content masquerading as news (it is associated with poor journalism, political propaganda, and some forms of advertising)
  • 5. Media and trust context
  • 6. The rise of distributed discovery
  • 7. Far from creating echo chambers, distributed discovery often exposes people to more sources RISJ Digital News Report 2017 7 People use search and social media (and news aggregators) tend to use more sources of news and greater diversity of sources than those that don’t The effect of incidental exposure to news on social media is particularly clear for the young and those least interested in news
  • 8. 8 “IT’S THEIR JOB … TO REPORT THE FACTS” Q2. You recently viewed a story with the headline X. On which of the following news websites did you read this story? If you read it on more than one, please select all that apply. Showing share of correct brand attributions. Base: Direct 1,098/ Search 1,022/ Social 1,008 (Facebook 795, Twitter 194) 2X difference But brand attribution is a problem … Fewer than half can remember the news brand that produced a story when coming from social media or search
  • 9. In the era of “fake news” only … 24% agree social media does a good job in separating fact from fiction “PEOPLE SHARE WITHOUT READING THE INFORMATION IN THE ARTICLE” Female (21), USA
  • 10. 40% agree the news media does a good job in separating fact from fiction “IT’S THEIR JOB TO REPORT THE FACTS” “IT’S THEIR JOB … TO REPORT THE FACTS” In the era of “fake news” only …
  • 11. Measuring the reach of “fake news”
  • 12. Measuring the reach of false news on the web (ex. France)
  • 13. Measuring the reach of false news on social media (ex. France)
  • 14. How can we fight disinformation?
  • 15. How can we fight disinformation? 1. Be cautious of vague and broad responses with potentially dangerous side-effects, whether in the form of new legislation restricting expression or politically-mandated policing of acceptable speech by private companies 2. Strengthen institutions that make our societies more resilient by providing support for private sector media, genuinely independent public service media, open data initiatives, media and information literacy, and by encouraging platform companies to embrace their wider responsibilities 3. Pursue narrow, precisely targeted responses to specific particularly malicious instances, e.g. neutral and transparent steps to demonetize false information, increased scrutiny of foreign states’ information operations
  • 16. What do we know and what can we do? Professor Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, Director of Research rasmus.nielsen@politics.ox.ac.uk / @rasmus_kleis European Parliament, February 22, 2018 @risj_oxford | #DNR17 | digitalnewsreport.org The “Fake News” Debate
  • 17. Further reading On the importance of focusing on broader problems of disinformation Wardle, Claire, and Hossein Derakhshan. 2017. INFORMATION DISORDER: Toward an Interdisciplinary Framework for Research and Policy Making. Report to the Council of Europe. https://shorensteincenter.org/information-disorder-framework-for-research-and-policymaking/. On audience perspectives on “fake news” Nielsen, Rasmus Kleis, and Lucas Graves. 2017. ““News You Don’t Believe”: Audience Perspectives on Fake News.” Oxford: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. http://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2017-10/Nielsen%26Graves_factsheet_1710v3_FINAL_download.pdf. On the move to distributed discovery and low trust in both news media and social media Newman, Nic, Richard Fletcher, Antonis Kalogeropoulos, David A. L Levy, and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen. 2017. “Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2017.” Oxford: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. http://www.digitalnewsreport.org/. Kalogeropoulos, Antonis, and Nic Newman. 2017. “‘I Saw the News on Facebook’: Brand Attribution When Accessing News from Distributed Environments.” Oxford: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. http://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2017-07/Brand%20attributions%20report.pdf. On measuring the reach of “fake news” and online disinformation in Europe Fletcher, Richard, Alessio Cornia, Lucas Graves, and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen. 2018. “Measuring the Reach of ‘Fake News’ and Online Disinformation in Europe.” Oxford: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2018- 02/Measuring%20the%20reach%20of%20fake%20news%20and%20online%20distribution%20in%20Europe%20CORRECT%20FLAG.pdf. On challenges and opportunities for journalism in an increasingly digital, mobile, and social media environment Nielsen, Rasmus Kleis, Alessio Cornia, and Antonis Kalogeropoulos. 2016. “Challenges and Opportunities for News Media and Journalism in an Increasingly Digital, Mobile, and Social Media Environment.” Commissioned Report for the Council of Europe. Oxford: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. http://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/research/files/Challenges%2520and%2520opportunities%2520for%2520news%2520media%2520and%2520journalism%2520in%2520an%25 20increasingly%2520digital%252C%2520mobile%2520and%2520social%2520media%2520environment.pdf.