One of the biggest problems that social media has today is with the spread of misinformation. To combat this pervasive problem, the BBC has partnered with tech giants Facebook, Twitter, and Google to develop a system to fight disinformation and fake news. The system allows the companies to share information about events or content that may “threaten human life or disrupt democracy.” In the short term, the system promises to limit the propagation of disinformation across these channels.
Additionally, the system will incorporate a media education campaign, shared learning, and information for voting. While details on these parts of the program aren’t public as yet, the BBC believes that it should come on stream shortly. Facebook already has a system in place there it presented fact-checking on news items directly after the details are shared to help users determine which news is fake and which isn’t.
Gearing Up for the 2020 Election
The timing of the announcement comes as no surprise as the 2020 US general election looms shortly. The 2016 general elections were seemingly heavily influenced through the use of analytics. The Cambridge Analytica scandal made social media purveyors look differently at the way they market data. Internet giants have already begun working with intelligence agencies to ensure a repeat of the scandal doesn’t occur this time around. The BBC’s new system helps that by making the media channels more homogeneous in how they present news.
While the BBC is not a US company, their system allows for social media to keep users safe from malicious disinformation campaigns regardless of where in the world those users are. With the recent focus on social media companies and their use and spread of user information, the tech giants may see this new methodology as a way to batten the hatches. By showing that they are taking an active interest in securing their users’ best interests, they might escape further persecution by the current US government.