The Internet…The Enemy Of Falsehood


Guardianista Roy Greenslade in the Evening Standard says:

Don’t blame the internet for false rumours about Boston – it’s the enemy of falsehoods

How far down the digital road do we have to travel before journalists — plus assorted politicians, police officers and lawyers — stop blaming the internet for false reporting? It’s not about the tools. It’s all about the people, the human beings, who use, and misuse, those tools.

Worse, much worse, than any citizen hack churning out fantasies was surely the response of the mainstream media, which hardly covered themselves in glory.

What all these outfits need to learn in these days of extreme transparency is to be transparent themselves, which means registering uncertainty rather than certainty. If mainstream media are to retain trust, and to show they have greater value to the public than so-called citizen journalism practised by “amateurs”, then they must not only up their game but change their game too.


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24 Responses to The Internet…The Enemy Of Falsehood

  1. 1327 says:

    I’m intrigued by the emerging meme about the Internet being responsible for false rumours after the Boston bombings. The TV news I saw (Sky , CNN , bits of Beeb) kept referring to right wing gun nuts and rumours of “chatter” from security agency staff. On the Internet (well Reddit initially) I saw informed talk and captioned security camera images. There was much talk about the light skin of the suspects identified (this was a day or two before the FBI released any pictures) and how this could mean the suspects from the former SU (which was also correct).
    Of course not everything said was correct but with a little intelligence the noise could be filtered out.
    The MSM (and their friends) are scared now they have seen the future and it doesn’t involve them.


    • Span Ows says:

      This is so true…they are happy to use twitter etc for their benefit but when someone gets the drop on them they don’t like it. these days any citizen with a smart phone in the right place at the right time is as powerful as the greatest ‘reporter’.


      • noggin says:

        yep! agree
        and … just can t help themselves

        Last week someone was falsely accused of the boston bombing (gawd save us), asks al beeb.1s, po faced TBQs host nikki panto campbell … “is the net, social media out of control?”
        hmmm was that the far right – lone wolf breivik/mcveigh types – someone upset about the gun laws – homegrown mass murderer, or the tea partier making a “statement” on patriots day ya da ya da ya da.
        but! but! …. panto old chap 😀 … that was the BBC
        not the net
        yep!, more spurious and less factual, and when the facts were out, they slowed down the truth, angling a “victim narrative” …. sooooo to answer your question …..
        yes the bbc is out of control, and in a lot of cases, thank god for the net 😀


      • 1327 says:

        I think its more than just the scoop photos and reportage now Span Owls its now spreading to rapid analysis. While the hunt was on for the brother who hadn’t assumed room temperature I (and millions of others) were looking at the elder brothers You Tube channel picks which consisted of Islamic nutjob films. At the same time in another mostly disconnected world the talking heads and autocue readers of the MSM were earnestly debating just what the bombers motive was.


    • Guest Who says:

      I will give Mr. G a slight nod for where he is going with this but, as you point out, he rather stops short of where he could have gone…
      ‘..many thousands of people in America used social media to make claims about the identity of the perpetrators.’
      And some most trusted broadcasters outside are not averse to be in the social media fray, inbound and out..
      You can continue to comment on Newsnight using the social media websites Facebook and Twitter.
      The initial response was, at best, daft…
      BBC Newsnight ‏@BBCNewsnight 15 Apr
      BBC North America editor Mark Mardell: Police are treating Boston attacks as deliberate … it may just be a precaution #newsnight

      I am still trying to conjure up what kind of attack may be other than deliberate. But at least it was cautious vs. his later ‘analysis’.
      On FaceBook they steered well clear (given the nature of many responders on BBC FB pages now, probably wise) bar one link to an Urban that garnered his now usual 2 comments before shut down.
      He’s certainly ‘covering the bases’ there, isn’t he, given no one had a clue.
      And one can’t help but notice where he does not go vs. where he does.
      ‘On Wednesday the shock jock Rush Limbaugh was voicing outrage at the theories that the marathon bombing had been perpetrated by the extreme right..
      Really, who may have been doing that?


    • Adi says:

      The MSM (and their friends) are scared now they have seen the future and it doesn’t involve them.

      Well said. The al-beeb is used having a monopoly over disseminating information and they act like a bully vs Sky or any other who dare challenge it. However, they have seen the future, or at least a glimpse of it. And it doesn’t look good. Soon they will join NYT and Times, one can only hope.


      • Andrew says:

        The “meme” mentioned in the first response on this thread also appears in this week’s “Radio Times” in the Justin Webb article. It starts off gently (about the White House cabbage patch or some such!) but then the idea becomes clear: more sources don’t mean better news.


        • Adi says:

          More sources means same story reported from different angles. Exactly what the monopolistic beeboids do NOT want.

          Sadly, these days, it is the beeboids who decide what “better news” means, go figure. Don’t worry, won’t last for long.


          • Doublethinker says:

            I hope that you are right and that we soon see an end to the BBC monopoly of news and current affairs.


  2. David Brims says:

    The Guardian and the BBC, the fountain of all truth.


  3. London Calling says:

    Fox News stayed on the case hour by hour, covering every angle as it evolved, cut to experts in every related field. Felt comfortable with the Muslim and Jihad words. The defining issue was home-grown jihadists or foreign agents jihadists. Breaking news, analysis, first rate job. That’s what you get from “Right Wing Television”. Quality reporting.

    Access to Fox News freely via the Internet.

    BBC? desperate for it to be a white right wing nut, still speculating about the killers “motives” days after the event. First concern was Muslims fear of public backlash. No doubt looking to pin blame on America’s lax attitude to ownership of pressure cookers.

    Access by compulsory tax of £145 a year.


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      Not a fair comparison, as Fox News doesn’t have to offer the Proms or sitcoms or David Attenborough or a baker’s dozen topical comedy panel shows or children’s programming (unless you count the morning sofa talkers and Hannity).

      The thing is, Fox News isn’t really better than the BBC in this case, as they, too, speculated in one direction before any real evidence was available. Of course, they got it right, while the BBC got it horribly wrong. Again. But that doesn’t make it the best or correct way to handle this. Speculate about everyone or no one. It’s not that difficult.


      • Amounderness Lad says:

        The difference is, and where Fox News is far superior, that they do not lie about the slant put on their reporting or their editorial content so you at least how to judge their output. The BBC on the other hand lie, lie and lie again with their claims that they are absolutely impartial in their reporting and editorial content.

        It is only when people have either long experience of the BBC or listen to it intently over a shorter period that their bias slowly becomes obvious. Those who only listen or watch when large events happen and don’t of the BBC’s constant drip, drip of propaganda in certain areas take their output as verifiably accurate.

        The other, rather more important detail, is that I am not forced to pay a tax to fund Fox News, unlike the BBC which I have to fund whether I wish to or not. As far as I m concerned Fox News, or any other Independent News outlet, can be as biased as they wish provided they make clear where they are coming from because they have no direct obligation to the public. If they go too far and the public stop watching they will go out of business. The BBC, on the other hand have a captive source of income, enforced by law, and should therefore not push their own ideology or bias in any direction and have a duty to be fair, open and honest in their reporting.

        As a youth I used to occasionally listen to Radio Moscow and also Voice of America, two very different propaganda outlets. The one thing I was well aware of was what viewpoint each was pushing and could therefore make a good judgement on the reliability of their output in certain areas. Had I been brainwashed, by constant assertions of fairness and reliability over many decades, that one or the other was infallible I would, no doubt, have taken that particular broadcaster as safe, truthful and absolutely accurate and swallowed every word. That is the position the BBC has, by skilful and carefully disguised manipulation of it’s output, indoctrinated it’s audience that what it claims is to be taken as Gospel and, by doing that, has made itself a far more effective propaganda machine for it’s own agenda than any of the more honest and more openly biased broadcasters could ever be.


  4. chrisH says:

    Non-story, deserving of the usual “public enquiry” no doubt.
    It`s simple Greenslade…you and your pals and fellow hacks were facing Mecca and praying(Ommmm!) that it would turn out to be a white blokes “of the right”.
    Well, yes you got your wish partly…sadly for you it`s worth f***all…because they are were and always will be…MUSLIM!
    That`s the top trump, so tough.

    That you and your craven media jocks now have to risk a pinkie on saying that sacred word…MUSLIM…may make you wet yourselves…but then again Boston liberals are plentiful and will share your fears about daring to impugn the ROP.
    Your musings have…well I nearly said “blown up in you faces”…but you`re beyond jokes.
    Serial bedwetting fantasist baring your necks, going back into your closets, hoping for polygamy and Sharia…ANYTHING rather than face up to Islam.
    Piss off-get off the lines(especially the coke ones)-quake in your offices, and stop apologising for Islam.
    They have more scorn and contempt for you that WE do..and on this one thing, I agree with them.
    Spineless.aspirational, conspiratorial agents of Islam that think you`ll be able to ditch the boyfriends and get better heroin.
    Sorry…you`re contemptible.
    BBC and Guardian are the easiest Twin Towers to blow down….why risk a plane when they`re collapsing from within by the day.


  5. Colditz says:

    Fascinating…but not a lot to do with the BBC is it?


    • Guest Who says:

      ‘not a lot to do with the BBC is it?’
      If not a significant part of the MSM, where would you put the world’s most trusted broadcaster then?
      ‘Worse, much worse, than any citizen hack churning out fantasies was surely the response of the mainstream media, which hardly covered themselves in glory.’
      You also appear to be one who is easily guided via editorial by omission. Which given your fealties is explained if not excused.
      ps: Mr. Buster has staked a claim on being irony-free procedural site nanny too. Maybe you two should both make pitches and then we get to vote? Might be worth bearing in mind that, as visiting site critics, the role may not carry much heft.


    • chrisH says:

      Am guessing that you were away when the BBC/Guardian etc were telling us all that it was likely as not far-right types commemorating the Patriots Day anniversaries of Waco, Oklahoma?
      Or need we all just “draw a line under it all, watch the tumbleweed pass on by and move along”?
      Truly a creature of the BBCs wildest fantasies aren`t we Coldie?…unless you`re telling me that it didn`t happen( and no doubt, you`ll not be able to get it on iPlayer now, will you…well timed lad!)


  6. jimmy brown says:

    Based upon one not watching live broadcasts on TV or iplayer –

    Send the BBC a recorded delivery letter saying that you no longer require a licence, withdrawing their implied right of access and that any visit by their representatives will be used as evidence of harassment. Within two weeks you should have their letter promising not to visit, as I had.

    You can legally watch DVDs on a TV as long as you don’t watch programmes live.


    • spooky says:

      I went legally licence free over a year ago, just persuaded a friend to do the same; still pissed off that I have to give up my right to watch movies and drama series (which the BBC doesn’t offer) even on subscription channels unless I pay the BBC blackmail fee every month.


  7. Dwayne says:

    Thanks for giving me a laugh Alan.


  8. George R says:

    Wales and Islamic jihadists.

    BBC-NUJ, with its massive broadcasting and internet ‘news’ publicly financed propaganda empire, censors this important security information about WALES, despite BBC-NUJ’s large number of ‘journalists there:-

    “UK: Islamic jihadis recruiting in Welsh schools”

    [Opening excerpt]:-

    “They view Wales as a safe haven in comparison to London, which is itself a hotbed of Islamic supremacism.”


  9. Sir Arthur Strebe-Grebling says:

    Some stupid people trust the internet too much: Chechnya or Czech Republic?