In a world where social media has made it easy to spread lies, fake news and falsehoods, it is increasingly important to keep the public in the loop about the truth.
However, in an age of ‘fake news’, where the spread of misinformation is on the rise, some have called for greater scrutiny of what is reported online.
In an effort to help ensure that truth and facts are shared, the BBC has created a ‘digital blasphemies’ project to identify and tackle the most egregious falsehoods and false information circulating on social media.
The project is part of the BBC’s global initiative to fight misinformation and misinformation-related criminal activity, and aims to highlight the harmful impact of misinformation on public trust in information technology and in our democracy.
The BBC is the largest independent broadcaster in the world and has the largest audience for news on any website in the UK.
The Digital Bias project aims to identify, and stop, the spread and misuse of false and misleading information and information that is deliberately misleading.
The programme is a collaboration between the BBC, the Information Commissioner’s Office and the Royal College of Journalists.
The work has been launched by the BBC Trust and is part the BBC World Service programme “Digital Bias”.
The programme features a range of experts and experts from across the political spectrum, including senior lawyers, academics and academics from government and industry.
The experts are invited to give a presentation at the programme and have a chance to ask questions to the experts.
This year’s panel is Dr Jonathan Beaumont, professor of law at Oxford University, and is a regular guest on the BBC News website.
The panel includes:Professor Stephen Green, professor, University of Oxford and Director of the Centre for Information Law at the University of Cambridge; and Professor Peter Muellbauer, Senior Fellow, University College London.
Professor Muellaar also provides commentary and advice to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
He has previously warned against ‘digital whitewashing’, which he said is often used to conceal the impact of false information.
In a report published in 2016, the Institute for Public Policy Research, which he co-chairs, said: “This type of false reporting and misinformation is often very effective at generating distrust in and negative publicity about the authorities, businesses and organisations involved.
He said that this year, he and others were trying to make the most of the increasing use of social media by journalists, by publishing research about misinformation and false claims and encouraging people to read the facts and information about the fake news on the internet.”
These false and harmful stories and claims often have the appearance of being legitimate and factually correct, but in fact they are misleading, false or otherwise inaccurate.”
He said that this year, he and others were trying to make the most of the increasing use of social media by journalists, by publishing research about misinformation and false claims and encouraging people to read the facts and information about the fake news on the internet.
Dr Green said: “”It is clear that misinformation and disinformation are on the increase.
The internet is enabling individuals and organisations to disseminate falsehoods about the governments, business, and political elite that they find politically inconvenient.
This includes news articles and commentary.
We need to combat this growing threat to our democracy, by identifying and addressing the false information that spreads on the web, by exposing false information and false statements, and by ensuring that the public is kept informed about the true and accurate information that the media is trying to push through.
“He added: “”I am hopeful that this project will help the BBC to continue its mission to tell the stories of real people and events, not the lies and false narratives they are told to sell newspapers, magazines, TV and film.
It will also help the media and politicians to focus on what is happening, instead of being distracted by the false stories that they peddle to the public.”
The programme also features Professor Beaumant who is a former chairman of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and an expert in wildlife.
He said: ‘There is an increasing focus on the use of the internet for fake news, but this is also a threat to democracy.
False information is becoming more common and has a corrosive effect on the ability of people to trust and rely on the institutions of our democracy.’
The BBC Trust is a non-profit organisation which provides impartial, independent and independent journalism to the British public.
It aims to ensure that the BBC delivers the highest quality of journalism and programming.
For more information please visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/trust