Fake News

Contemporary fake news is either wholly false or contains deliberately misleading elements incorporated within its content or context. It is widely circulated online where many people accept as fact stories of uncertain provenance or accuracy.

Given that fake news is a complex phenomenon, driven by technology, economics, propaganda, and people's woeful digital literacy, with a raft of sociological and psychological reasons for why people spread misinformation, there is no one single solution to fake news. But MPC members, Vian Bakir and Andrew McStay, are working on this. They have written and spoken extensively about fake news.  

This includes academic journals (Fake News and The Economy of Emotions). It includes analysis for two Subject Associations: the Political Studies Association (e.g. 'What Drives Fake News', and 'Was it 'AI wot won it'? Hyper-targeting and profiling emotions online'); and for MeCCSA's Three-D (Combatting fake news: analysis of submissions to the fake news inquiry).

Across 2017, they made numerous submissions to the UK Parliament's Fake News Inquiry, focussing on solutions to fake news. Two written submissions are Fake News: Media Economics and Emotional Button-Pushing; and Summary And Analysis Of All Written Submissions On How To Combat Fake News (Up To April 2017). One (authored by Bakir, Miller, Robinson and Simpson) is on Fake News: A Framework for Detecting and Avoiding Propaganda.

In 2018, Vian Bakir and Andrew McStay were invited to give evidence on misinformation and user targeting to the UK Parliament's Fake News Inquiry. Vian told a panel of 11 MPs about the many democratic problems with online 'filter bubbles'. Vian also pointed out that politicians themselves are responsible for a significant portion of deception online, and should do more to prevent fake news at source. Televised coverage of the 1.5 hr Fake News panel generated worldwide press coverage. (e.g. AOL).

Earlier in 2017, Vian and Andrew participated in a Pew Internet survey on the future of information ecosystems and reliable facts – a survey that consulted more than 1,100 internet and technology experts. It wanted to know their thoughts on fake news and its implications for democracy. This was published in Oct 2017 as The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online.