.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

How the media is being manipulated in this General Election

Yesterday was extraordinary for two stories that went viral, and in one case threatened to derail the Tory General Election campaign. How those stories were handled by Conservative Central Office however, illustrates perfectly both the inadequacy of the scrutiny being applied to politicians by journalists, and how those promoting 'fake news' are seeking to manipulate our opinions.

As the Guardian reports, with just days to go until polling day, the Tories suffered one of their worst days of the campaign as Boris Johnson refused on camera to look at a picture of a sick four-year-old boy forced to sleep on a hospital floor and pocketed the phone of the reporter who tried to show it to him.

The paper says that the incident escalated when Matt Hancock, the health secretary, was dispatched to Leeds General Infirmary in an effort to show that the party was taking the case seriously. But Johnson’s team ended up trying to deflect the story on to Labour by wrongly briefing that a Tory aide was “punched” outside the hospital by a left-wing activist.

The claims quickly turned out to be untrue when video footage showed that the adviser was accidentally brushed in the face.

What is remarkable about the way the story about the poorly boy was handled is its treatment on social media. This thread by Dr Marc Owen Jones, who according to his twitter handle is an Assistant Professor of Middle East Studies at Durham University, illustrates how a viral campaign was launched to try and discredit the story:

[Thread]1/ This one is about the fake news claiming that a sick boy on the floor of a hospital in leeds was staged by his mother. We know the story is real, Dr Yvette Oade, chief medical officer at Leeds even apologised

2/ Firstly, the bots and sock puppet accounts are on the case on Twitter. As you can see, an identical tweet claiming the mother staged the photo was circulated on Twitter. It's literally copied and pasted, and the accounts are targeting it at various influencers

3/ Even more alarming is on Facebook. The exact same tweet is mentioned on dozens of fairly dodgy looking FB accounts. What's more, is that some of these posts are pasted into groups where they get liked and commented on, often by people who seem to believe it ... #bbcqt

4/ In one example, Jason Crosby pastes the tweet on the FB group for "Seaham Have Your Say". Seaham have your say is a page with 24k followers serving the North Eastern coastal town of Seaham. His post gets 91 comments and 26 shares.

5/ This one is even more egregious. The fake news post on the group March Cambridgeshire Free Discussion with 37k members has 235 comments and 28 shares. You can see the comments here, https://facebook.com/groups/550171758376588/permalink/2738102966250112/… - many call out the fakeness, others seem to believe it...

6/ It's interesting to note that in addition to targeting national level Facebook groups, a lot of these accounts are targeting influential local Facebook groups such as that of Cambridgeshire and Seaham. We know the role local FB groups are said to play in this election

7/ Meanwhile, back on Twitter, @Telegraph columnist @allisonpearson retweeted the copy and pasted tweet (of course in theory the text could still be genuine - but if so why is is circulated by weird sock puppets). Pearson 'presumes it is genuine'.

8/ It's 3.20 am here and I'm tired but I'll wager @allisonpearson is perhaps the most influential proponent of the faked floor theory. Stay tuned for her expose in the telegraph. I hope she interviewed the senior nursing sister! Night all !

9/ Last one. Interestingly @allisonpearson 'a retweet of what looks like a bot was then retweeted by @Fox_Claire (albeit with more caveats - not that it matters really) . Goes to show how potentially fake accounts and news can spread so insidious

10/ Important Update! Former England Cricketer @KP24 has tweeted to his over 3 million followers the same copy and paste fake news story perpetuating the myth that the boy on the hospital floor photo was staged. Crisis mode!

There is no better example of how our views and opinions are being manipulated through social media.
That £12million Johnson election war-chest is clearly being effectively spent on social media. :-(
SO! The complaining fakeness is about the boy.THE FACT THAT JOHNSON DID NOT LOOK AT THE PICTURE AND TOOK THE PHONE OFF THE REPORTER SHOWING NO EMPATHY (whether the boy thing was staged or not) SHOWS HE IS NOT FIT TO GOVERN.

Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?