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Disinformation and ‘fake news’: Final Report published (parliament.uk)
130 points by Anon84 31 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 162 comments



The truth is the internet is teaching the biggest lesson ever in critical thinking and getting your information from many sources across spectrums, countries, divides and more to find out what is really going on.

People must think about why they are hearing about something and the layers and goals that are behind it and drive it.

Let's hope that people see these disinformation and misinformation efforts as a lesson and not somewhere they can bask in their confirmation bias all day, or make decisions based on fear, in those cases the populace is easy to manipulate, divide and conquer.

When something it too salacious or fits a narrative too perfectly, someone/group is marketing you in a direction and has you possibly in an active measure.


I think one of the lessons of the history "accelerate the contradictions" ( http://acceleratethecontradictions.blogspot.com/2010/04/acce... ) is that putting the public in a situation where they have to improve lest there be a huge disaster, is a good way to get a huge disaster.


Funny, I thought the lesson here is that if you take away the barriers to the entry, all regulation, most of the financial burden, and provide nearly complete anonymity for disseminating news and information then foreign state actors will abuse it.

I can point my finger at the problems above. I can clearly articulate the problems above. I can even propose some clear and limited solutions to those problems.

But there are monied and powerful interests who do not want to solve those problems. So we will end up blaming "stupid people" or give a "blank check" of regulatory authority that ends up being abused to line the pockets of bureaucrats who will craft laws that damage free speech and the rights of common people.

Before we go start a class war about educating the unwashed masses, or create a new "TSA for the internet" let's just stop and think about how this problem has been solved reasonably for "old media" without hampering free speech or redesigning school curriculum across the globe.


Especially when the change must happen quickly (in this case in terms of years)


All the children cannot be above average.


They can if the children of tomorrow are compared with children of yesteryear, and children’s education system has improved such that children of tomorrow excel at all the metrics measured.

For example, how much “smarter” are children today than children of 1000 b.c.?


People aren’t perfect. Asking for large-scale, across-the-Board improvements in critical thinking is identical to just advocating for the status quo.

It’s also destructive. People prefer their existing believes to be verified. Making „trust no one“ popular just gives them license to discount any evidence contradicting them. So Wikipedia says illegal immigration is at a 30-year low? Those numbers must be fake. Homeland Security has the same numbers? They are in it together!

And how would you, even in principle, verify anything if you trust no one? I have absolutely no proof that El Chapo has anything to do with cocaine. I can’t examine any documents from the trial myself. And even if I could, they could just be fake anyway. Who knows how big the anti-Chapo conspiracy is? The recordings may just be voice actors, and why should I trust the translator?


Because people aren't perfect, I am heavily opposed to the idea of creating an authoritative institution with the task of defining truth.

Having that wouldn't magically solve the problem of climate change, this is a stupendous stupid straw man argument. On the contrary, the lack of trust would increase the number of people being more skeptical in self defense.

The status quo isn't reinforced if people are free to create and share content unrestricted. Again to the contrary, an institution defining truth tends to reinforce prevailing powers. Obviously and evidence for that is numerous.


> People must think about why they are hearing about something and the layers and goals that are behind it and drive it.

The truth can be benefitial though. So "the drive" for spreading information doesn't necessarily means the information is wrong.


"People must think about why they are hearing about something and the layers and goals that are behind it and drive it."

But do they or will they? The proliferation of flat earth videos on YouTube suggests otherwise. In a perfect world everyone would critically examine what they hear, but a lot of people just feed their existing biases.

(To be clear, I'm not suggesting that flat earth videos are banned because they seem harmless, if stupid. Anti-vaccine content, on the other hand, needs some additional context at the very minimum.)


It is a hard problem.

The answer is it will never fully be solved but if there is enough competing information and facts are out there, you might just get most of the people to hold down the fort.

There will always be people fooled by disinformation/misinformation and everyone probably has been fooled by some, even highly skilled intel agents that purposefully look for it and have access to more info.

As long as most people can differentiate fake/real fact/fiction/bias then we are good.

I do think it is better to have this information out to be fought, when you hide it, critical thinking skills aren't improved over time, and we become more susceptible to it.

We need to solve it before AI and neural networks target and learn about each one of us, and where we are gullible or biased. Some of the disinformation/misinformation/fake news out there is already algorithm driven and when it can be tuned to each individual's psychology that is when it gets scary. Already these networks are grouping people in smaller and smaller target groups and the result is highly effective.

Education and critical thinking is the only way, people need to challenge all authority and all information, especially after emergencies/disasters/shock/attacks as that is when the hoards emerge the most.


The more competing information, the fewer people left holding a full set of accurate cards; it's becoming easier to micro-target the lies to peel off individuals with what they really want to believe.

> as most people can differentiate fake/real fact/fiction/bias then we are good

Generally they can't, because truth is not intrinsic to the news article you have in front of you. You either check it against what you already know ("confirmation bias"), against the source of authority, or you have to go do actual research (huge amount of work and nearly always infeasible).


It is a difficult problem, but the alternative is to have something like a Ministry of Truth, and that is scarier than information out there competing in the market.


Do you think your version of the truth can honestly compete with the version of the truth being pushed by foreign powers? Or someone's version of the truth being pushed by the hyper-wealthy to decry vaccinations or climate change?

We already have a Ministry of Truth, funded by the people who can round up the most bots or the most funds to spread their voice as far and as loudly as possible. I've spoken before about my mother falling for literal propaganda on Facebook before and if you don't see a problem yet, I recommend you start talking with your family and friends about what they consume and see.


The truth is we have always had propaganda all around us and gossip/rumor was even bigger pre-internet. Now we are absolutely flooded and I am not advocating against fighting it, I am just advocating against blocking or expecting some ultimate source as the truth.

Critical thinking can be helped by educating and making it clear that news is like advertising today, it is mostly marketing. Like on commercials when you have the fine print or pharma meds when you have to list side effects. News should also present all sides and ones that don't should be seen as biased fully.

Most people know marketing is inflated truth or lies, the same needs to be reflected of news and media. Facts and information can help decipher if it is real or not, even if people aren't paying attention or care about facts. Even small stuff like Youtube saying a certain video is marketing, unconfirmed or from a source funded by a foreign government, that is all helpful. Same way people see content in a TV ad or in a tabloid, and know not to think it is real. Now there will always be people that believe fake things, there are still people that buy goods from the phone from telemarketers, but ultimately most people know to raise their level of critical thinking and expect a higher level of trust in those areas.

A big problem is when people automatically trust a source too much or it feeds into their confirmation bias, sometimes you can't change that but you shouldn't block all content or have a corruptible institution to manage it, because the people that can develop critical thinking stop relying on those skills and now you have a bigger problem.

The 'truth' needs to be broadcast from many sources not a single source, the oceans of information need to be mostly fact based/correct with more quantity and quality than the tabloid fake news.

"Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please." --Mark Twain


"it's becoming easier to micro-target the lies to peel off individuals with what they really want to believe."

Or, more powerfully, what they are afraid of.


Checking against what you know is not confirmation bias necessarily (example, not taking flat-earth or infinity-energy videos seriously)

At the same time even the history of science is filled with self-contradictions against what is known, what is ignored and what is discovered, 100% "skepticism" leads people nowhere.


I agree that it's a hard problem, but it feels like people are shying away from the difficulty if I'm honest.

My issue is particularly with social media, where people aren't presented with a balance of information. Feed algorithms are structured to increase engagement at the expense of everything else. It's this lack of balance combined with people's confirmation bias that concerns me, particularly when it comes to things that have a direct impact such as anti-vaccine information.

I don't care about flat earth stuff, stupid though it may be, and I think it's right to make a distinction between harmless idiocy and the clearly harmful stuff. There's going to be a lot of grey area, but this is true of a huge amount of case law already.


I think censoring the "fake news" is far more dangerous than to just let it exist and have people think for themselves about what's true or false.


If we're not even going to flag completely false yet carefully crafted propaganda from hostile countries designed solely to wreck our democracy, then we are screwed.

And be aware that nations that censor aren't flagging a meme or two. They conspicuously hound reputable outlets and reporters into silence. And everyone living in such places knows it's happening.

They're not wringing thier hands wondering if holocaust denial is not ranked high enough by google, they talking worriedly about Maria Ressa being suddenly jailed etc.


You have no idea if such propaganda even exists.

Here is the UK culture minister today writing about the need to control the internet because of "disinformation"

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/02/17/era-self-reg...

But he admits that there is no evidence any foreign power has tried to target the UK via disinformation in any way.

And there is no real evidence that's been happening in the USA either. Those claims always fall apart when studied.


It clearly does exist. Read the report carefully e.g. para 240:

"the Government stated that, following the nerve agent attack in Salisbury in March 2018, the Government had “judged the Russian state promulgated at least 38 false disinformation narratives around this criminal act”.267 However, the Government made it clear that “it has not seen evidence of successful use of disinformation by foreign actors, including Russia, to influence UK democratic processes”.2

What is disputed is whether and how "successful" it was, which is almost impossible to ever be certain about.


Why?


There is a theory that says people will be inoculated against fake news, if only they're exposed to enough of it. That critical thinking skills, like immune systems and website security, are made strong by unrelenting attacks.

After all, it's unlikely we'll ever see a day where everyone agrees on everything so completely that no two humans disagree about anything! And as long as that's the case, we'd better know how to deal with people telling us things that are wrong.

The theory goes that seeing social media messages with obvious lies like "Put nails in your tyres for better winter traction" and "Shoot yourself with small calibre bullets to build an immunity to larger bullets" teaches people scepticism and rational thought they can apply to much more complex statements like "inflation is caused by the fed printing money" and "the highest crime areas are those with a lot of immigrants"

Does it work? Have we seen it working hitherto? You be the judge!


Here in Brazil there is a very strong media monopoly, so most people are used to being fed only one side of the stories. It breaks critical thinking skills and leaves people completely vulnerable to trash content propagated within whatsapp and facebook.

The problem here is that these "propagandists" cater to people's emotions in a very persuasive manner. It's not that it will blatantly tell you "Shoot yourself with small calibre bullets", but rather it will inseminate the thought that perhaps you should shoot your neighbor, out of fear. The message is so masterfully targeted and gamified that even if 1 person starts having more "critical thinking" and simply shrug off the information, there are 10 more people ready and willing.


> There is a theory that says people will be inoculated against fake news, if only they're exposed to enough of it.

Rwanda is possibly the best most recent counterpoint to this argument. Granted that the medium was radio as opposed to internet, and that there are therefore different regulatory mechanisms that can be applied (public airwaves vs TCP/IP) - but it shows the danger of getting people into a warped reality bubble.

https://blogs.library.duke.edu/rubenstein/2013/05/10/radio-i...


Fake news is known only after the fact. (After verification.)

If you can accept only really verifiably sourced news, things become really inconvenient for both journalists and political opposition.

And where do you put the bar? No interpretation allowed dry facts? Court rulings?


News that turn out to be false are not fake news. News deliberately known to be false are fake news.

Example from the last US presidential election:

* The Pope endorses Bernie Sanders -> this is fake news

* The Pope endorses Trump -> this is fake news

* The Pope endorses Clinton -> this is fake news

All three spread on facebook, btw (https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/pope-francis-shocks-world-...)

Also, anonymous sources are not fake news, they're anonymous sources. If labelled as such, the are fine.


This is an insufficient definition of fake news since Due Diligence is a huge part of real journalism. I could email some news organization claiming to be an insider and offering some 'explosive revelation' about an issue or another. It would be absolutely fake news for them to simply run that story while attributing it to an anonymous source. It's their responsibility to ensure that what I say is true beyond any reasonable doubt. When dealing with anonymous and/or potentially biased sources this responsibility is exponentially more important.

There was a very recent example of this where Buzzfeed chose to publish an 'explosive' story about the Mueller investigation. So explosive was the story that the Mueller team took the completely unprecedented step of publicly clarifying that Buzzfeed's story was fake. [1] I doubt they simply made up the story. In reality they most likely simply failed to effectively carry out their due diligence, but this is in many ways no better because there is a major economic incentive to skip or engage in sloppy due diligence. When you run explosive stories you get substantial revenue gains due to the exclusive attention you gain. And there's also the risk that a story is true and, in the process of trying to validate it, you end up getting beat to the press by another media organization - once again hurting your revenue and visibility.

[1] - https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/2019/...


I'd argue that sloppy reporting is not fake news, and shouldn't be censored. That story hurt Buzzfeed's credibility [even more], and increased Mueller's credibility. That is how it is supposed to work.


Turkey joining the EU was another example from the Brexit campaign - it was clearly nonsense (Turkey might want to join the EU but the chances of that happening any time soon is pretty much zero):

https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/unfounded-claim-tu...


Indeed, here's another example:

'Leaving the European Union would tip the UK into a year-long recession, with up to 820,000 jobs lost within two years, Chancellor George Osborne says.

Publishing Treasury analysis, he said a Leave vote would cause an "immediate and profound" economic shock, with growth between 3% and 6% lower.'


Well, the shock hasn't arrived yet, but we've not left yet either. Businesses have held off on action due to the lack of clarity but are starting to move out now.

Edit: Honda Swindon is the latest, just now.


Utterly immaterial to my post. Here's what he said: 'a Leave vote would cause an "immediate and profound" economic shock'

No mention of 'when we leave', is there?

Also if you have a special hotline to Honda management please enlighten us further, because as far as I'm aware nothing has been shared at this time pointing to it being caused by Brexit. Also there are significant global trends affecting the car industry that have nothing to do with Brexit. Please don't be disingenuous.


> Here's what he said: 'a Leave vote would cause an "immediate and profound" economic shock'

Did you even read your own post?

> 'Leaving the European Union would tip the UK into a year-long recession, with up to 820,000 jobs lost within two years, Chancellor George Osborne says.

Leaving is not voting to leave. UK hasn't left yet. Note that I think that the statement is wrong, but it certainly hasn't been disproven yet.


The Facebook Ads, when those were revealed, were nothing more than racist lies. Trying to imply all of Turkey would be in the UK without Brexit.

Just like we had all of Greece, and all of Poland then, where there's naught but a wilderness now.


Of course, one thing that I hadn't realised until watching "Brexit: the Uncivil War" is that by using targetted ads in Facebook only the groups targetted get to see the ads - so the other side of the debate, the press and the general public are completely oblivious to what is actually being communicated.


Most of the things said about Brexit in both directions were predictions about the future. Many such predictions were obviously nonsense but could be justified on the grounds that it could happen, or rather, that the speakers believed strongly that the predictions were not nonsense.

A sibling post has already highlighted one of the most notorious examples (voting Leave will trigger an immediate and huge recession), which was promoted as totally the consensus and nobody intelligent could possibly disagree with this guaranteed-to-happen-by-experts prediction. But there were many others (£4300 worse off in 15 years or whatever it was). Did the government really believe these predictions? We can't really know if they were intentionally manipulative or earnestly believed.

The Turkey case is maybe a bit like that. How likely it is to happen depends a lot on your beliefs about what future EU leadership will do. Recall that Turkey joining has been official policy in the not too distant past. Recall also that the people who ultimately control the EU - men like Juncker - routinely say in public that all borders are bad and that the future of Europe is vast quantities of Islamic immigration, that there is a moral imperative to let that happen in fact. And Turkey is a huge and Islamic country on the border of the EU that wants to join the EU. You don't have to be particularly weird or paranoid to assume that whatever objections may currently exist might go away in future.

Or you could say it's evil and manipulative and fake news. Depends entirely on your perspective.

There's one difference - the economic prediction was short term and already proven false. Turkey joining the EU was a long term prediction with no particular attached timeline, I think. It's harder to falsify.


Trump ties with Russia -> this is fake news


That's just a bad headline. "Ties" is so vague that it can mean anything.


>The Pope endorses Bernie Sanders

If it was only things like these, no one would have a problem.

But in practice, anything other than "Hillary Clinton is completely healthy" and "Trump is a Russian puppet" is categorized as fake news.

This push against fake news is just the elites trying to hold onto the power of controlling the narrative.


> But in practice, anything other than "Hillary Clinton is completely healthy" and "Trump is a Russian puppet" is categorized as fake news.

By whom? No serious fact checking effort I've seen suffers from that problem.


Flat Earth is fake news, and thats not after the fact. Vaccines do not cause autism, it is also already known. Yet this deadly misinformation keeps spreading.


I’d guess he’d answer that it’s hard to be sure the people verifying the news are not just censoring what they don’t like.


> the people verifying [...]

There are opinion pieces thinly disguised as "fact checks".


The current Measles epidemic is the result of letting people ""think for themselves""


what do you think would be the extent of it if people read "government hides the truth about vaccines"


[flagged]


That's quite some iceberg hubris there. A truly informed person could not possibly vote this way hidden behind a scapegoat.

Well maybe people vote this way the moment the dividend of science fails to arrive in a row.


Fighting against fake news by spreading fake news, good job.


What evidence do you have that Trump's election was the result of fake news?


Just set a high bar. There are cases where the science is settled - vaccines, for example - where the spread of false information is already leading to direct harm such as a higher rate of measles outbreaks. I think people are too scared of decisions like this. It just doesn't feel complicated. There are laws that control speech - fraud, libel and so on. Why is this any different?


It'd be hard to legally separate things like vaccines where the industry says it's ok and activists say they cause problems with things like lead in fuel where for decades the industry said it was ok and activists said it caused problems.


Good example, but I still think it's better to have conflicting information out there, let people write what they write and read what they read. And above all, think for themselves, or at least try. Sure, a couple of people end up not vaccinating their kids. The rest shouldn't have a problem with that, after all, they do vaccinate, so their kids are protected. It's an extreme example but I don't see anything that warrants curtailing free speech here.

And also, I think science is never settled. Science is a never ending stream of questions, with every answer evoking multiple new questions to be answered. The idea that the "science is settled" has reared it's ugly head multiple times in the past, to be proven wrong every single time. What if bloodletting was as some point considered "settled science" and no discussion of alternatives was allowed? We would still be doing bloodletting, wouldn't we?


"Science is not settled" in most cases means that current understanding can be improved and refined, not that it will do 180° turn.


> they do vaccinate, so their kids are protected.

There is a small but noticeable component of kids who can't be vaccinated for other health reasons. It's also possible to catch illnesses before the scheduled vaccination date.

(A few years ago we were talking of the possibility of eradicating measles and polio, but the CIA blew that one with .. fake vaccinations)


>The rest shouldn't have a problem with that, after all, they do vaccinate, so their kids are protected. It's an extreme example but I don't see anything that warrants curtailing free speech here.

Are you honestly serious here? Do you not realize that there are many kids and people that legitimately can not vaccinate their own kids due to allergy or immune response issues? They compromise herd immunity and is the entire reason why we're seeing another measles outbreak!

Acting like there isn't a problem here is either being simply uninformed or deliberately ignorant. That's exactly why I have a problem with anti-vaxxers because they're threatening the lives of those around them because of some incredibly stupid and unfounded beliefs.


I think that guy may have a point though.

Take pertussis vaccine for example: pertussis may be deadly for newborns, but they cannot be vaccinated until they are of a certain age. We have here to vaccinate one group to protect another.

Is it ethical? Can we really mandate one group to risk their health to protect another?

One may say that in this case the risk is minimal and the benefits are great, but at this point we stop dealing with facts and go into emotional sphere.

One of the problems is that in the vaccination talks it's usually either "all vaccines are the godsend blessing" or "all vaccines are dealy poisons". A thought that some vaccines prevent thousands of deaths and some were just piggybacked by the "big pharma" is vehemently rejected by both sides.


No, the benefit and risks are not matter of opinion, but numbers.

The opinion is whether it is worth a very tiny risk of adverse reaction of a big group against a moderate risk of death of other people in a small group.

These amounts are all quantifiable, unlike a dumb trolley problem, but many people do not like tiny risks even if it were to save someone's life.


I hear what you say, but how tiny is tiny and how moderate is moderate? Can we blame the people for not willing to put their lives at risk, albeit small?

Can we blame parents for not willing to put their children's lives at small risk for saving some other adult?

I believe that should be the subject of the discussion, not whether vaccines cause autism (apparently they don't) or whether pharmaceutical corporations are greedy (yes, they are like any corporation).

And - as a separate, but related question - what do we do with religious exemptions here?


I get where you're coming from, but bloodletting wasn't based on randomised controlled trials, and the science on vaccines is as clear as it's going to get. The issue for me here is protection of children, as happens when kids are removed from abusive parents. "Sure, a couple of people end up not vaccinating their kids," feels a bit glib, because measles can be fatal. We draw the line elsewhere - racism, homophobia, libel. The arguments against this here feel like they amount to special pleading for social media, whereas in the rest of society certain speech is, rightly in my view, policed.

Like some of the discussions around GDPR, it feels like there may be a cultural difference between the USA and EU in terms of how much government is trusted, and I wonder if that's a large part of the disagreements in these comments. I'm in the UK and trust the government not to overreach (although in the light of Brexit that trust is wearing very thin), and even if it did our independent judiciary would reign it in, as it has done many times in the past.


Interested by the downvotes here. Genuine question - are people OK with anti-vaccine content being displayed unchecked? Or is it more a reaction to "doesn't feel complicated," which I can understand might feel like it's minimising an ethically fraught issue.


I also used to feel similarly. But in deciding to research exactly why anti-vax types feel the way they do I was a bit surprised. I still believe there is a social obligation to vaccinate, but claiming the "science is settled" on an issue like this is not entirely appropriate. This [1] is a rather monumental report from the National Academy of Sciences that took an extremely in depth look at this topic. It's from 2011 but things have not changed radically since then.

In that 866 page report the researchers analyze a great breadth of data and research on connections between vaccines and all sorts of nasty things. And one phrase you might find worth ctrl+fing is "The evidence is inadequate to accept or reject a causal relationship between". You'll find it repeated constantly throughout the report as the academy researchers come to their conclusion on the validity (or lack thereof) of a causal link between vaccines and all sorts of nasty stuff. And for many of these nasty correlations while the evidence is insufficient claim a causal link, it's also insufficient to reject it. Not exactly what you'd call settled science.

Of course this does not justify turning against vaccinations. Even if there is a causal link found between vaccines and some of these various issues, the possibility of significant numbers of people choosing to not vaccinate would be catastrophic. For instance we're right now on the cusp of completely eliminating polio, much as we did smallpox. In fact you are currently more likely to get polio from a vaccine than in the wild. And some people might use that as a reason to stop vaccinating. But if they did, that would rapidly change. The one and only thing that's bringing us to where we are is people choosing to vaccinate. So it comes down to a matter of social responsibility. Vaccines are not without risk but whatever risk there is greatly outweighed by the collective benefits.

http://nationalacademies.org/HMD/Reports/2011/Adverse-Effect...


You're right that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. But presumably you don't think that vaccines don't prevent serious diseases? If there were significant negative side effects of vaccines - of an order which negates the benefits of those vaccinations - I would argue that we'd know that by now.


> If there were significant negative side effects of vaccines - of an order which negates the benefits of those vaccinations - I would argue that we'd know that by now.

New vaccines are created and may have side effects. E.g. H1N1 vaccine causing narcolepsy in Europe recently: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/history/narcoleps...

Using the phrase "the science is settled" is silly, given that the creation and manufacturing of new vaccines isn't settled.


This isn't exactly what 'settled science' means. Let me give you an example:

Let's say I'm someone that really hates vaccines. I begin spreading rumors throughout the internet that vaccines cause cancer. My evidence? Most of the people that have cancer had vaccines at one point in the past.

Now how does science disprove this? Through years of study, research and data collection over many decades. Even then, it would be hard to accept or reject a casual relationship between cancer and vaccines, because that is an almost endless set of data. All I would have to do is make up some new casual correlation between vaccines and Y as an attack vector. This is exactly how arguments against climate change are made as well. Science is never really settled, but we can reach a high level of confidence on how something works.


This is commonly called the "gish gallop" - it's much easier to generate falsehood than refute it.

Worse, because of the way confidence intervals work, if you generate enough bad hypotheses and run experiments, eventually you find one where it appears to be true!



Medical disinformation often rises to the top of search results:

https://www.wired.com/story/the-complexity-of-simply-searchi...


I found something like this when searched for antibiotic resistance in russian.

Mainstream, 70-years old boring truth is not the top result. Top result is fringe controversial study, that is reported all over recent news. This is so frustrating.


What did you expect? Antibiotic resistance is a new phenomenon. There's no science in modern Russia, and good sources on the subject like "The Lancet" and NIH's pubmed are in English.


I guess you'd expect that but it could in theory be fixed with better search algorithms. Perhaps AI that could distinguish The Lancet and crank stuff.


There’s no Russian version of The Lancet, nor Russian translation. Nothing to distinguish crank stuff from.

People can distinguish if they speak other languages and search global Internet. Maybe I’m underestimating AI but I don’t think AI can do that currently, nor will be able in foreseeable future.


   Calls for:
   Social media companies obliged to take down known sources of
   harmful content, including proven sources of disinformation
It will be interesting to see how Reddit addresses The_Donald or 8chan deals with the QAnon nonsense in the wake of this.

Edit: Feel free to disagree with the law, but you don't do that with a downvote.


Who decides what is a "proven source of disinformation"?

The media that are currently paraded as trustworthy were all in on things like "babies out of incubators", "weapons of mass destruction", Libya, etc. And everyone who tried to go against them was smeared as conspiracy theorist.

I can not trust the media that was integral in lying about and manufacturing consent for endless wars, when they have not learned from their mistakes and are still beating their drums.

Giving the elites power to decide what is a "proven source of disinformation" sounds like a really bad idea.


> Who decides what is a "proven source of disinformation"?

That question doesn't get nearly enough attention among those decrying the rise of fake news. Even the NYT occasionally gets it wrong. Does that make them a "proven source of disinformation"?

The answer is not to throw your hands in the air and concede to factual relativism. But the first step to solving this problem is to recognize that it is a very, very difficult problem.


It is not a difficult problem, ban the bots from St. Petersburg, not the god damn NYT.


What you are effectively saying is that the answer to "who decides" is you. I can see why you would think that is a satisfactory answer, but can you see how a reasonable person might disagree?


If reasonable people are disagreeing, then they have reasons to disagree. If reasons can drive a discussion, they can decide issues like this. So your question is misleading. It's not "who decides", but "what decides", and how to we ensure the "what" remains reasons that reasonable people would support.

Otherwise, you're just asking how people make decisions. "Who decided murder should be illegal" is just a poor (rather conspiratorial) way to ask what reasons are used to argue that it should be illegal and how we determined that those reasons were sufficient.

Presumably, in a democracy, the answer to "who determines what the government does" is "the people."


How do you prove something is disinformation? Time for a ministry of truth? I can imagine already imagine for example which version of the Convington kids case would be considered official and information.


This is exactly right. Trusting a government to determine what is true and what is not, and enforcing that version of truth via shutting down certain speech and penalising those who speak it, is a bad idea. I’ve no problem with a government announcing that they believe something is true or false, but I have a big problem with them restricting the speech of people who happen to disagree.


Instead we have a ministry of truth being perpetuated by sites such as Youtube, with incredibly harmful information being disseminated and treated as truth resulting in disease outbreaks and outright denial of history.

In your idealistic world of free speech, the innocent pay the price for the freedom to spread lies and deceit. At what point do we accept that it has to be fixed, or are we OK with diseases previously eradicated coming back in full force?


The difference is that there is also an overwhelming force of true speech to counter the lies and deceit. Once you start banning speech, only "official" lies will be allowed. See China.

Where the hell did you get the idea that free speech is only OK until people start to lie?

You can take my free speech from my cold, dead mouth.


We're in the era when automated propaganda means the lies can far more easily overwhelm the truth.

And just as with guns, the lies end up with the deaths of innocent bystanders.


Whereas before, manual propaganda ended up with deaths of innocent bystanders.

Can you point to any source that indicates that deaths have gone up due to AI/social media bots? And even if there was a study, it's not necessarily a case for censorship. Pretty much every basic right Americans have are trade-offs rather than 100% positive.


> The difference is that there is also an overwhelming force of true speech to counter the lies and deceit

That doesn't seem to be hugely helping as far as climate change goes. For anything where money is involved deepest pockets counts far more than the "overwhelming force" of true speech. It has become depressingly common to see topics being astroturfed or an "Independent Health Research Institute" set up by the guilty corporate or a trade body, and SEO'd and adworded to page 1. Like Soviet Bloc use of "democratic", use of "independent" in an information site has almost become proof it's not. :)

We need to dream up some life changing consequences for lies and misinformation, serious enough that it stops being standard policy of every medium size enterprise.


If that overwhelming force of true speech worked, then why hasn't climate change denial, anti-vaccine nonsense etc been eradicated from the public sphere yet?

In fact, why are those movements growing?


Banning "climate change denial" isn't going to magically ensure the truth wins out either. Remember that terrifying news about the oceans having absorbed 60% more heat than we thought, meaning that global warming was far worse than previously estimated? It should've been immediately suspicious - ocean temperature was something we could and did directly measure with thermometers, making the claim unlikely on its face, and their method of measurement was weird and indirect. Yet it was uncritically repeated by every major news outlet and it fell to the "denialists" to spot that they'd majorly underestimated their error bounds and could not, in fact, exclude the possibility that the straightforward and direct temperature measurements were correct. The original authors have now retracted their big claims as a result.

HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18352506

The updated and corrected version of the BBC article it linked to: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-46046067


Where did you get this idea that free speech would solve all problems of ignorance? Perhaps you could stamp out at least public displays of climate change denial or anti-vaccine messages, but then you'd also stamp out criticism of the government and any narratives that challenge the corporate power structure, whether true or not. It's obvious that lies would be worse if free speech were restricted, as evidenced by the many countries that have restricted it.

In any case, the idea of free speech is explicitly to support unpopular forms of speech. Challenges to the status quo are intentional, whether informed or ignorant.


That is because climate alarmism has been around for quite a while and anybody who has memory longer than a goldfish's can easily recollect the promised catastrophes which just didn't happen. Anti-vaccine nonsense is often painted as refusal to do all vaccines (there are nuts like that but they are few) rather than not exactly groundless suspicion that SOME new vaccines and aggressive vaccination regiments are pushed onto public not for the benefit of people but rather for the benefit of pharmas and because of evident willful misrepresentation of potential for dangerous side effects - not to mention that the very notion of forced medication strikes many people as utterly totalitarian.

These movements are growing precisely because of persistent lying, exaggerations, and totalitarian inclinations of people who promote climate "change" (a good example of Orwellian newspeak, isn't it?) and ever-growing number of must-do vaccines as reason for more taxation and more corporate welfare. A normal human reaction to being forced to submit is to resist. Even if force is supposed to be for the victim's own good.


> These movements are growing precisely because of persistent lying, exaggerations, and totalitarian inclinations of people who promote climate "change" (a good example of Orwellian newspeak, isn't it?)

What complete and utter bullshit. Yes, not all of the predictions behind climate change have come true; science evolves and new predictions or estimations are made as advancements in technology grow. Yet we've seen many of the predictions come true and many far worse things start to pop up, including the mass decline of insects worldwide and the rapidly rising sea level.


"we've seen many of the predictions come true... including the mass decline of insects worldwide"

Interesting you should mention that. No doubt you're referring to the recent study [1], heavily pushed by the likes of The Guardian [2], the Washington Post and the BBC, warning of the "collapse of nature" due to declining insect population.

Did you also know that this study turned out to be flawed to the point of uselessness? So flawed in fact that the Global Warming Policy Foundation sent a complaint to its publishers and is calling for its withdrawal? [3]

I think you unwittingly just proved aveross' point vis-à-vis 'climate alarmism'...

[1] https://www.pnas.org/content/115/44/E10397#F1

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/10/plummeti...

[3] https://www.thegwpf.org/hyper-alarming-study-was-hype/


Hang on just a bloody minute.

The recent study "heavily pushed by the likes of the Guardian" (sic) refers to an entirely different meta study[1] of 73 global reports. No mention of or link to the older study you cite.

The meta study concludes intensive agriculture is the main driver of the declines, particularly the heavy use of pesticides. Urbanisation and climate change are also significant factors. So the failure or otherwise of the temperature record in a single location is mostly irrelevant to their findings. If it is even included in the analysis at all.

What a delightful illustration for a thread on disinformation and fake news.

[1] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000632071...


If you think I'm denying climate change, you've misunderstood my point.

My point is that disinformation campaigns are not solely an endeavour of nefarious actors with an agenda. They are also undertaken by those with noble intentions. Climate alarmists are a good example of that.

Should we give disinformation campaigns a free pass if they're done with good intentions?


"No mention of or link to the older study you cite."

It's right there in the 4th paragraph.


Which is link to a previous article, so adds a level of indirection. If you'd cited that in the first place, fine.

Even if the complaint letter turns out to be upheld (unlikely given the history of the authors, but you never know), it doesn't affect, or even question, the conclusion of the meta study in the Guardian piece you did link to. The one that concludes climate is only a significant secondary factor.

Until said letter is upheld as finding a valid flaw in the study, it's worthless. That's how science progresses. Individual studies are found accurate or wanting, further research confirms, disputes or adds precision.

A few steps from the hyperbole of "flawed to the point of uselessness", as though it is already proven.


Do you have any credible source for 3?

GWPF is a firmly denialist think tank set up by Nigel Lawson, one of the most strident deniers who has often and easily been caught lying on many readily checked points. GWPF has been repeatedly criticised for its misinformation, its opaque funding and lied about sources, and breached Charity Commission rules on impartiality.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Warming_Policy_Foundati...


You realize that the Global Warming Policy Foundation is a climate change skeptic organization, correct? They're entirely founded upon climate change denial.

So what exactly kind of bullshit were you trying to pull by implying that they were an authority on climate change? Either you were ignorant of the GWPF or you were deliberately misconstruing them in attempt to gaslight.


Do you have anything to say about the actual substance of the complaint? Are you denying that the paper is based on flawed data? Have you even read the complaint?

You can attack the organization all you like, but you havent actually shown that the complaint is unjustified.


So it's gaslighting, then? Why in the hell should I believe reporting from an organization whose entire stated purpose is to spread FUD and has knowingly in the past lied about the various points it's attempted to raise? If the paper is based off of flawed data, then I assume you can find an actual credible source willing to address this.

If you can give me a credible source by all means I would be happy to admit I'm wrong. What you've given me is trash disguised as something credible. Especially since in your original post you implied that they were a climate change authority. There's a lot of bullshit that I try to ignore, but I expect better than that.


You seem very angry about this.

Here's what we know:

The paper compares temperature data primarily from a single weather station 'El Verde', starting in 1978. [1]

The operators of the weather station say themselves that the data is unreliable, that papers have already drawn erroneous conclusions based on it, and that it shouldn't be used for calculating long term trends. [2]

Here's a few quotes from [2], but please read the whole thing.

"Subsequent manipulations make the EVFS record less valuable for interpreting long term trends."

"After September 1992, recorded maximum temperatures increased substantially at this station, certainly as a result of the instrumentation changes that took place in that month."

"correction ceased to be applied to these maximum temperature data in 1997, and as a result, the EVFS maximum temperature record (LUQ data set 16) showed an abrupt increase in maximum temperature in 1997."

"This partially corrected data set is the one we made accessible to people on our web site and through ClimDB until Feb 2014. At least one paper has reached erroneous conclusions about long term trends based on these data (Huey et al. 2009)."

"The differences in instrumentation have introduced differences in the data between these two periods, and treating them as a single data set misrepresents the data."

Knowing this, I think it's fair to say that any data prior to 1997 is invalid. Now take the graph in [1] and disregard 1997 backwards, and it paints an entirely different picture doesn't it?

[1] https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/...

[2] http://luq.lternet.edu/data/luqmetadata16


I have no intention of debating with someone who has already misrepresented the debate once, especially someone that refuses to link or share a credible resource. As far as I have searched, every single link 'debunking' this study is coming from sites that deliberately peddle fake information such as Breitbart.

I have debated and dealt with far too many climate skeptics that deliberately point out one small part of a study and misconstrue it in attempt to debunk the entire thing.


I demonstrated that the paper shows a long term trend based on the data from a weather station.

I also showed you that the operators of the weather station explicitly say that the data should not be used to interpret long term trends.

All you have done is launch ad hominem attacks, you have not addressed the issue itself in any of your posts.


"climate skeptics that deliberately point out one small part of a study and misconstrue it in attempt to debunk the entire thing. "

This is where you got me badly wrong. I'm not a climate sceptic and I'm not trying to debunk the entire thing. This is a thread about disinformation and I'm pointing out an instance of disinformation.

I think there's a wider discussion to have here about whether disinformation is OK if it's done with noble intentions, and only those spreading disinformation with malicious intent should be censored. Or should we find all disinformation campaigns equally repugnant?


> I'm not a climate sceptic and I'm not trying to debunk the entire thing. This is a thread about disinformation and I'm pointing out an instance of disinformation.

You're pointing out an 'instance of disinformation' by using a site known for disinformation and spreading disinformation. Don't lie now, we both know exactly what you were trying to pull.


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And you're a liar refusing to provide me with an actual proper citation or resource. If these are easily verifiable facts, then I would expect you could find me a reputable climatologist that debunks the claims made. Neither of us are climatologists and can make claims as to whether or not someone nitpicking an incredibly tiny portion of a paper (which has more data corroborating the growth in temperature) invalidates the whole thing.

I have long learned not to trust climate skeptics to debate in good faith. So please, provide a proper source.


If the people who operate the weather station explicitly saying that its data should not be used for long term interpretation isn't credible enough for you, frankly I don't know what would be.

Once again, I am not a 'climate skeptic'. You need to dial down your irrational hatred.


That is a very good question. Many seem to think the Russia investigation is ok even if there is nothing to be found because the intentions are to take down trump. I've had many debates with friends where I pinned them down and they finally admitted there is no direct evidence of collusion with Russia, and they admit that it's for a good cause so it doesn't matter. I'm a progressive and despise Trump, but these dishonest tactics only do harm to the cause.

Same goes for the anti-anti-vaxxer campaign. It's obvious to most educated people that vaccines are a good thing, but to the uneducated, they see through all the propaganda for vaccines and it backfires because they end up trusting the establishment even less. Seeing everything as a team sport ends up with each side using any tactic, no matter how dishonest, to win the game.


> Anti-vaccine nonsense is often painted as refusal to do all vaccines (there are nuts like that but they are few) rather than not exactly groundless suspicion that SOME new vaccines

Would you class the measles vaccine as new? https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/feb/15/measles-who-...

In both your points regarding climate change and vaccinations, you show yourself as an apologist for anti-science causes.


> The difference is that there is also an overwhelming force of true speech to counter the lies and deceit.

Is there really? The president of the United States: http://www.trumptwitterarchive.com/highlights/vaccines


"In your idealistic world of free speech, the innocent pay the price for the freedom to spread lies and deceit."

I'd replace 'innocent' with some combination of 'gullible', 'ignorant', or just 'stupid'.

We have a tried & tested strategy for dealing with stupid people - it's called education.


No, you're mischaracterising this.

Gullible people believe the lies, but they're not necessarily the victims, they are more likely to be perpetrators. A lot of the nastier cases (e.g. Rwanda, Rohingya) the innocents are those murdered by the gullible.


Part of freedom is responsibility.

If you want to be intellectually consistent, you would never trust MSM. They lied about every war, their body count is far far higher than that of some YouTube channels.


I would say at the point where free speech could believably proven to "hurt the innocent".

If you denounce idealism in favor of some alleged pragmatism, I would need pragmatic evidence.


What happens when it goes further than people who encourage others not to vaccinate their kids or who spread the word about a flat Earth?

If you decide to allow the government to determine what is truth and what is a lie, and then to punish those that speak something the government considers untruthful, you’re heading for a future that is far more dangerous than measles outbreaks and anti-scientific discourse.

What happens when the government determines there is an official version of history and you can’t dispute that official version without punishment? What happens when the government decides that news reports should all align with an official ‘true version’ of current events, as determined by the government, of course?


We're headed for a potentially disastrous future as a result of climate change being viewed as a hoax and old diseases being revived. I view the potential destruction of the human race as being far more dangerous than potentially some checks and balances on tech companies using 'faulty algorithms' as an excuse for why their content engines keep recommending conspiracy theories and false information to everyone.

While the earth's climate ends up being permanently altered and forever affecting human habitation we'll still be arguing about how vaccines are turning the frogs gay.


Especially as you have no idea when a government hostile to you or your beliefs may take power, and if they do, well then it could means news and things you believe in get censored or banned. Anyone who believes governments should have the ability to decide what 'fake news' is should remember who's in the White House about now, or who runs the FCC at the moment. And who might be in the White House in a few years/run the FCC in a few years, etc.


Especially in an era where our president refers to every negative article about him as "fake news".


Court cases? Ultimately that's where Sandy Hook has ended up.

More seriously, if you believe that it's impossible for courts to establish truth or that they are the same thing as Party members of the elected government, you've already given up on the possibility of rule of law and arguably democracy as a whole.


Can I take the dozens of news outlets in the Western world to court for lying about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction? It was their coverage which arguably resulted in public support with billions of tax dollars spent on a lie

Or were they simply reporting what they were told without proof?

It's a very slippery slope.


> Can I take the dozens of news outlets in the Western world to court for lying about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction? It was their coverage which arguably resulted in public support with billions of tax dollars spent on a lie

The "dozens of news outlets" were not, as far as they knew, lying. They were reporting what their sources, many/most of them public, told them. If you want to punish someone for this lie, it should be the Bush administration.


> Can I take the dozens of news outlets in the Western world to court for lying about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction?

Which specific ones?


I think any effective, honest campaign against lying in public life has to take both newspapers and politicians into account somehow. UK press regulation is absent but at the same time we have onerous libel law.

Having "accurately reporting what the government minister said" still open press to liability is .. interesting, especially when considering how to report Trump.


Cases like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scopes_Trial show that indeed, court may fail to establish the truth, especially in politically motivated cases.


The report recommends, "tech companies assume legal liability for content identified as harmful after it has been posted by users".

If they do that, the existing laws and court system would be used decide what is disinformation, in the same they are currently applied to traditionally published media.


And then everything is frozen. No discourse allowed because moderators become the police and they cannot accept any liability.

This law cannot be allowed to pass in such a broad form. Obviously it is convenient to status quo.


If this were being applied to the media, where the links come from, we wouldn't need to apply it to tech sites, where the links are shared.

This doesn't cover all cases but it's offloading the responsibility from "journalists" to tech.

If the media were honest at all they'd acknowledge that they're most of the problem.

Pimpus 31 days ago [flagged]

While the rest of Reddit was lying about Hillary's favorability, only The Donald was posting accurate polls. They've continued to be more accurate than the other subreddits, most recently with the Jussie Smolett thing. I think at this point people are willfully ignoring reality, though it's getting harder (the Russia collusion conspiracy theory is no longer cresible).


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For every piece of fake news in the_donald, it legitimately calls out five examples from liberal sources.

It's a combination of meme factory and watchdog group. It's a little crazy because it has to be. When you can't speak about your views reasonably and publicly because you'll be ostracised no matter what you say or how accurate it is, what else can you do? How else do you respond?

The maga DC kid literally just stood there and was called a racist and bigot with calls for his face to be punched in and for him to be doxxed. Imagine if he opened his mouth to say something? That's the world people in the_donald live in. Fear to speak.

And that story turned out to be fake news anyway. For people using it, the_donald played an important role of being a place where much of the truth of that situation was surfaced.

I don't think you can really blame people for saying fuck it, if nobody's going to hear me out, I may as well be fun and funny and extreme while I do it.

Plus, everybody knows that the real danger isn't that it promotes a lot of fake news, but that the real news that it does surface might be convincing.

Between the memes, the_donald is part of a well-rounded news feed if your goal is to actually understand US politics and the viewpoints of many conservative thinkers, and not just blindly desire people to conform to something else.

It obviously should not be your only news source.


> The maga DC kid literally just stood there and was called a racist and bigot with calls for his face to be punched in and for him to be doxxed. Imagine if he opened his mouth to say something? That's the world people in the_donald live in. Fear to speak.

I'm in awe of the sort of mental gymnastics it must take to describe the content on r/T_D as "funny" and then turn around and exhibit all the nasty things said about the "maga DC kid" as an example of how horrible the other side is, and how marginalized and victimized "conservatives" are.

Can you not see that these are two sides of the same extremist coin? I suppose that in allowing media like r/T_D and its ilk to shape your worldview, you lose that sort of perspective. The major theme of your comment—how badly "conservatives" are treated (by some unspecified oppressor(s)), how victimized they are—precisely mirrors the tone of r/T_D when I looked at it just now. I imagine that causing people to believe in this gradient of victimhood must interfere with their ability to examine their own beliefs using the same criteria they apply to others.


Reddit-wise I doubt nothing honestly. That subreddit has been a hateful cesspool for years now, but the community and the money/traffic it bring in for the site due to the sheer amount of traffic, and backlash from big name rightwing nutters that use it for their propaganda launchpoint is more than reddit management wants to deal with, thus it's not going anywhere.


The problem is and always will be that truth is tricky to define, and “blocking fake news” is immensely easy to exploit for nefarious purposes.

Perhaps the better solution here is not to try to block the flood but to manipulate it by using market incentives. Notice how high-quality journalism tends (again, quite subjective) towards subscriptions and sponsorships, as users will actively want to participate whereas lower-effort content has to lean heavily on black-box advertising networks. This could be solved with a few changes: tax advertising a lot more, and use these funds to subsidise subscriptions and sponsorships in media.


Snippets from 2014 CFR discussion:

"…So the question I'm asking myself is can we figure out a way to accelerate the second curve of human response in a fashion -- in -- in -- in identical ways to the way DARPA accelerates the first curve of technological challenges."

"… What about Facebook? What about Twitter? I have no idea what Twitter is good for. But if it flips out every tyrant in the Middle East, I'm interested."

Funny how tools work…


Source on this?



is it me or does the committee seem lazy? their report is basically a collage of NYtimes articles, which they quote as evidence , even when it is speculative

their facebook emails 'evidence' isn t particularly related to their conclusions either. i mean facebook has been treating its small publishers unfairly since the age of zynga, just search facebook's forum to find developers actively calling them out. it's not really related to disinformation.

i would expect a little more work based on their own secret services about the extent of russian trolling in their own referendum.most of all i would expect at least some evidence that these campaigns can change people's opinion. not liking an electoral outcome cannot be used as evidence that they were effective

that said, i do hope they ban political advertising to death, because the ones who benefit from it are the politicians who write this report themselves. however, regulating the truth? i thought george orwell was british


> basically a collage of NYtimes articles

This is such an inaccurate statement that I'm tempted to joke about it being fake news.

This report is about as serious as it gets in terms of professional investigations. There's almost 100 pieces of written evidence and they called a number of witnesses to give primary evidence (famously including Zuckerberg who refused to show up). Where they have referred to the NYT, it is properly cited in the footnotes. Eight of the 349 footnotes refer to the NYT. Care to retract your accusation of laziness?

> ban political advertising to death

It largely is, in the UK. Certainly by American standards of "free speech". There's one huge exception: Facebook adverts were unregulated...


i was actually expecting something more related to the UK and brexit. Particularly, evidence that misinformation can change or has changed the minds of people regarding the EU, or brexit in general . Instead this seems to be a hodgepodge of well know information about facebook and cambridge analytiuca and the US elections. they use some very speculative quotes from nytimes such as this

> allegedly to spread anti-semitic information about George Soros and his campaigning activities, afer Mr Soros called Facebook “a menace to society” in early 2018.

and some very spurious data such as this

> is interesting to note that, as of 30 November 2018, the online Government response to our Report received a total of 1,290 unique page views and the PDF has been visited 396 unique times from the website.265 In the month following its publication, over 63% of views of the report online were from foreign IP addresses (whereas, on average, 80% of viewers of Reports are UK-based), and of these, over half were from Russia

in which they seem to be downgrading russian interference to spam bots. Their own conclusion with regards to interference in UK elections is that "Te Government should be conducting analysis to understand the extent of Russian targeting of voters during elections". i.e. "we don't know"

that said i m not disputing the accuracy of what is stated. it's just not enough, and not surprising at all


I strongly disagree with your claim that the report is lazy and doesn't use many resources outside the NYTimes.

A quick skim through sections on the report reveals extensive collaboration and referencing of material from other think tanks, committees, and companies. The sources are eclectic and varied, but I feel they are very relevant to this particular topic. I particularly note this comment from the report:

"This Final Report is the accumulation of many months of collaboration with other countries, organisations, parliamentarians and individuals from around the world. In total, the Committee held 23 oral evidence sessions, received over 170 written submissions, heard evidence from 73 witnesses, asking over 4,350 questions at these hearings, and had many exchanges of public and private correspondence with individuals and organisations."

This report strikes a serious and alarming tone, which is appropriate. We can only hope that our democracies can organise themselves to combat this threat effectively, and without destroying press freedom in the process.


> Compulsory Code of Ethics for tech companies overseen by independent regulator

I would have loved to see strong moves in favor of critical thinking, rational argumentation, scientific analysis/study.

The suggested actions will leave us with a government that dictates what it believes is good ethics and penalizes everyone who does not agree - Not quite the opposite of what I'd hope for, but its scarily close.


As a European I would be strongly in favor of the UK leaving the union as fast as possible if anything of that kind gets implemented.


The UK is currently subject to less of this kind of regulation than several other European countries.


The UK has been on a severe surveillance and control trip for over a decade now.


The problem is not fake news. The problem is extremely biased news.

Is everything Trump does is great? Hell, no.

Is everything Trump does is stupid? Probably not either.

But will hardly ever hear from CNN that "actually, Trump's idea here was good, let's give him a credit".

Same goes the other way round.


The truth is that there has always been misinformation, lies, and manipulation through media in politics.

Just look at the history of TV and radio regulation in the US and Europe. Look at how so many future leaders moved from media careers into politics.

The problem is that this time it didn't work as usual and the process had the wrong outcome (Brexit and mr. Trump). So now "we" are looking for excuses and reasons to expand government power.


Do we need a trust system of some kind? Maybe journalists should be held accountable in the same way that doctors, structural engineers, architects etc. An article should be cryptographically signed by the journalist. If a journalist publishes incorrect information, report it to their professional body. Factual inaccuracies should be corrected in the reported article or the journalist should withdraw their certificate from it. Several egregious uncorrected factual innacuracies, as judged by a jury of their peers and lay people, causes a journalist to be struck off and their certificate revoked forever lableing everything they have written as questionable. Protect the word ‘News’ in law so that you can’t use it without having certified journalists writing the copy. People can still publish and read anything they want just like you are free to go to a homeopath if you want, but there would be a trust structure in place.


a blockchain trust system for reporters (i think the profession of journalist has come full circle and it's time to retire the label)


Considering the amount of damage anti-vaccine hysteria and disinformation has caused, I can't say I disagree with their conclusions. If debating them with facts and logic actually worked, then we should've seen the movement fade away years ago.

It's not, and it's growing as a result of faulty search algorithms being used by people to spread conspiracy theories and fake nonsense. It's exactly why flat earth nonsense is spreading as well [1].

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/feb/17/study-blames...


The media has its own disinformation. For example the wage gap « at equal work » is the biggest statistical error ever made (never were basic criteria taken into account), thousands of researchers voiced that the way the media presented it made people think women were paid less for the same work...

...and yet researchers couldn’t get their voice to be heard. Given the number of unfair laws and bylaws that were passed on the understanding that women were paid less, the wage gap has been a lie at a huge scale.


Or Cohen being told to lie to congress. Or the Covington kids. Etc. One could make a pretty convincing case against pretty much every major newspaper and TV station. Fake news is really the news published by the other side.


I regularly quote said statistic - can you link me some reliable sources supporting your claim?


The key word in such research is called "Adjusted pay gap" vs "Unadjusted pay gap".

Differences in hours worked, occupations chosen, education, job experience, and location are the big ones. Then there are a few additional ones like age and health.

Depending on which study you either end up with a very minor (~5%) difference between women and men, or none.

With unadjusted pay gap that chooses to limit the selection to fully employed you get a number around 60% in the US. If you don't limit and count all citizen you get a weird number, and if you look at the problem from a social economic status perspective you get an even weirder results.


That is really interesting, and not what I had been lead to believe, but could you provide me with any reliable sources to this affect?


The proof is in the charge of the accusers. They accuse that there is a wage gap. Can they show a study that is properly peer-reviewed and includes all basic criteria together?

Each time we have this discussion, it derives into « Ok women are not paid less because of their gender, but because they work less. But they’re prevented from working, by social prejudices! »

Which proves my point, and sidesteps the question onto social prejudices. Concerning the question of social prejudices, it’s again a blanket accusation, and each argument has been repealed, but it’s a long discussion.

In each discussion what we can easily prove is that: - Women work less as soon as they marry a man. When they marry a woman, they earn more. When they are single, they earn more. When they have kids with a lesbian, they work more. The only case they work less is when there’s a husband, and that’s valid even before the first birth!!! All of it points to social expectations that women are not expected to work when they are in couple. Sorry for the « social construct » ideology, but the man is vastly made a slave of the woman in marriage, which would explain all of the above, including the wage-gap-because-they-work-less. - All in all, girls are treated better at school, better marked for the same copy (measured with anonymization, not just because they’re better), taken careof when they fail and even when « feel unsure » (see the whole debat about « women don’t dare asking for raises »– they got help from everyone on that case - while men don’t even get help when they plan to commit suicide), - Which results in better, both easier and healthier employment for women, and in average women before children earn 117% of men the same age in USA. I don’t even claim it’s infair that women earn more, I’m just tired of feminists being bigoted about male problems: for every feminist figure there is an inequality m that kills 50x more men and has 100x to 1000x smaller budget (see: beaten women, suicide, workplace deaths, in all of the western world).

Again, the burden of proof falls on those who claim there is an inequality. All we can prove is that every single feminist study was reliably proven false on the topic of wage-gap-for-same-work.


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This sound like straight-up nihilism. I'd get if it you were reserving judgement, but I'll bet you haven't even tried to read the report.


You are correct, I didn't. But it's precisely because there's a really good record of misinformation by the UK government. Not that they are any different from other governments in that respect. So, pardon me if I am a nihilist. I just remember Powell with 'yellow cake from Iraq' in UN and how Bush/Blaire government didn't really have any objections from US/UK media who were all too happy to spread misinformation in order to justify whatever needed to be justified (starting a war, for example). It's not really any different now with Syria or the Skripals in my view. I might have read the report had it been titled 'The speared of unauthorized disinformation and truths we don't approve of'.


Nihilism is the easy way out, because it absolves you of the responsibility to maintain some perspective. I get the fact that it's difficult to remain level-headed given the current political situation, but for every terrible story about governments - and there are many - there are enormous amounts of hard working people who are actually trying to do some good, and often achieve it. This report wasn't written by the government, it was a cross-party group of MPs, so it doesn't serve one political party over another. Do some of them have conflicts of interest? Perhaps, but unlikely given the seriousness with which the register of interests is taken in the UK parliament. If you're in the UK, you have the opportunity to visit your MP at one of their constituency surgeries and raise any issues you have with them. I presume the same is true in most modern democracies. Most politicians I've met (I'm in the UK) are doing what they're doing in good faith, whether I agreed with them or not.


I disagree with you. In my opinion fake news is a very convenient way for the government or the big tech to censor any dissent. Simply label anything 'fake news' or try to equate euroskepticism/conservatism to antivaccination and you win. You've got to be blind not to see that the 'fake news' narrative is used by the government to control the agenda. If it's nihilism or easy way out - fine. I'm not buying it. I've watched Alex Jones quite a bit 5-10 years ago. Yeah, he's batshit crazy, but when YouTube and Facebook banned Infowars, that's a very, very bad sign. I means that you can label anyone as 'another Alex Jones' and ban them. And politicians love having this option, apparently. Like what's happening to RT in UK, for example.


But do you have the measure of British MPs?

Right now there is this thing called Brexit. There is the 'no-deal', Theresa May 'deal' and 'remain' to consider. However, the truth is that democracy really was subverted by outside interests that funded the Brexiteers. None of that was legitimate spending, it went against the rules.

The Brexit debate should not be about 'leave' or 'remain' when there is this matter of whether democracy can be bought. There is a corruption scandal and addressing that should matter regardless of whether you hate or love Brussels. But none of the British MPs care about this fundamental issue, they are playing politics, stuck with their respective party lines to tow. They have had plenty of time to cotton on to what has gone on and they have not.

There may be some 'great work' done by back bench committees in Parliament, however, I would not mock anyone that has suspicions regarding the state of British politics in this era. The MPs know that the internet poses a threat to them because concerned citizens can express views online that are outside the narrow frame that is permitted within the political establishment.


"Right now there is this thing called Brexit." I'm British, so I'm all too aware of Brexit. The comment I responded to didn't sound like someone who had legitimate suspicions regarding the state of British politics, it sounded like a fatuous, offhand dismissal of people who were taking a serious interest the effect of social media on democracy. I'm interested in thoughtful criticism of the report, but this wasn't that.


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I certainly agree that a segment of the political spectrum, which you appear to inhabit, has attempted to redefine fake news as 'any news I don't like'. Of course, much like fake news itself, that doesn't make it true.


Fake news is new media. It must be really important if google news has a special section dedicated to it on the right column where you can see it without needing to scroll down the page. The uk has the bbc to spread its agenda, mostly in favour of further colonisation and to protect its weapons supply network across the middle east , and doesnt want the competition. Fake news is actually competition that makes the ‘real’ news try harder.


> further colonisation

What? UK has been de-colonising for decades. Other former colonial powers held on much harder, e.g. France.




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