Power over social media platforms

by Martin Moore

We are at a peculiar moment when governments – democratic and authoritarian alike –  are itching to regulate and legislate the major tech platforms. In the UK in April, Jeremy Hunt gave an ultimatum to social media to better protect children or face new laws.

His threat followed similar ones by Matt Hancock, Theresa May, and before her  David Cameron. And, in the same month as Hunt’s ultimatum, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was hauled in front of Congress for two days of questioning. “Congress is good at two things” Republican Senator Billy Long said then, “doing nothing, and overreacting. So far, we’ve done nothing on Facebook… [now] We’re getting ready to overreact.” Continue reading

Spotting the fake

Marina Jirotka 150x150

Marina Jirotka

Helena Webb 150x150

Helena Webb

Marina Jirotka is Professor of Human Centred Computing, Associate Director of the Oxford e-Research Centre and Associate Researcher of the Oxford Internet Institute.

Helena Webb is a senior researcher in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Oxford.

Here they consider what can be done by government and social media platforms to tackle the problem of fake news.

As campaigning in the UK General Election gained momentum in April 2017, the Chairman of the Government’s Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee called for Facebook to improve its handling of fake news on the platform. Referencing concerns that the spread of false stories across social media had influenced the results of the 2016 US Presidential election, Damian Collins MP suggested that the propagation of content of this kind could threaten the ‘integrity of democracy’. Continue reading