12: Scope and scale of Fake News and GDPR

Fake News

September was PR Measurement Month, and October is conference season. Not just in UK politics, but also for a number of trade bodies in communications, PR and media monitoring.

From AMEC and the PRCA, to FIBEP, ICCO, PRSA – there are plenty of awards and some reflections on where we’ve come from, where we are, and where we are likely to be going.

Fake news remains the centre of attention.

Tuesday’s New York Times ran the story How Russia Harvested American Rage to Reshape US Politics.  As an issue that affects the democratic process in Western societies, this continues to have the mainstream media in its thrall. It has, as Sam puts it, “upset the liberal apple cart.”

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11: Winning with data, the fallacy of rational decision-making, and the future of fake facts

For the 11th time, the SmallDataForum convened – this time to explore questions related to the opportunities and challenges of data in business, the rational and emotional side of decision-making, and the continuing erosion of trust and confidence in the truthfulness of information.

Stephen Fry’s fabulous narration of the complete works of Sherlock Holmes formed the backdrop to musings about data sleuthing and the skill sets required for successful forensic analytics.


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10: UK general election, micro-targeting voters and getting the right data

Amid congressional hearings and FBI investigations in the US about whether and how Russia interfered with the US Presidential Elections, discussions continue about the efficacy and ethics of micro-targeting voters.

In our latest and 10th edition of the SmallDataForum podcast, Neville, Sam and I reflect on the outcome of the recent general elections in the UK.

We agree that unlike last time, Labour did better than the Conservatives digitally at this election. In combining doorstep campaigning with digital targeting in marginal seats (based on the insights from their proprietary software) and generally being on the ball with issues online, Labour managed to connect the dots more successfully than the Conservatives.

This Amazon- or Netflix-style micro-targeting is seen by some as a ‘dark art’. But as Sam points out, we never see the mechanics of what happens in advertising and marketing.


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09: Back to the future or fast forward to a new normal?

News is neither a fixed nor a finite entity. There are some periods in history when it feels like there’s just more happening than at others.

I’m not talking about the Dark Ages (which suffered a blackout from not just newscasters but also historiographers). I’m talking about periods in one’s life in the early 21st century when it feels as if there’s more going on globally and geopolitically than at others.

Now of course, the growth of social media, driven by the democratisation of mobile technology and the explosion in smartphones in particular, has had a profound impact on the way that news is gathered, shared, and amplified.

Today, anyone with a smartphone and a decent 4G or WiFi connection, can become a citizen journalist, blogger, or vlogger. But the mere presence and widespread availability of technology and means of data transmission cannot – in and of themselves – create more news.


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08: The Facebook files, machine learning and fake news continue

Such is the nature of our continuously evolving subject matter, when we have completed a podcast, we often find that on key discussion points, there is already more, and breaking news.

Just days after recording our latest musings last week on the challenges and opportunities surrounding big-small data, with multiple references to Facebook and their attempts to counter fake news, the Guardian broke the story of the Facebook Files, based on more than 100 internal training manuals, spreadsheets and flowcharts outlining the rules and guidelines for what its two billion users can and can’t post on the site.

This will add to the global debate about the role and ethics of Facebook and other social media platforms in public discourse. And without a doubt it will be a key topic of future SDF podcasts.


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