Press release on social media and mis/disinformation in Northern Ireland

The University of Sheffield have issued a press release covering my recent work on mis-and disinformation in Northern Ireland.  This draws on my recent submission to the UK House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s Fake News inquiry, which argued that local journalists and politicians had a key role to play in countering ‘fake news’ shared via social media in Northern Ireland. Some selected quotes from the release are below:

Dr Reilly said: “While citizens played a role in sharing tweets that corrected rumours, mis-and disinformation shared on social media during these incidents, it is clear that professional journalists have a critical role to play in factchecking such claims and amplifying corrections and debunks.”

Other key points from Dr Reilly’s submission to the Fake News inquiy relate to the terminology used by politicians and the news media to describe such activity. He argues that the term ‘fake news’ fails to capture the complexities of how false information is created and shared via social media.

Dr Reilly added: “Fake news has become something of a ‘floating signifier’ – a term that can be weaponised by political groups to discredit news coverage that they disagree with. It also fails to capture the nuances of a spectrum of activity on social media that might be broadly defined as ‘false information;’ This ranges from the relatively benign behaviour of parody social media accounts that poke fun at our politicians to the more malevolent and sinister use of ‘troll farms’ to manufacture news with the intention of sowing confusion and disunity within democracies.”

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Written submission to DCMS Fake News inquiry published

My written submission to the Fake News Enquiry, entitled ‘Fake news, mis-and disinformation in Northern Ireland,’ has been published by the UK Government Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport Committee.

In the submission, I draw on my 17 years of research into digital media and conflict transformation in Northern Ireland to discuss how social media has been used to share  mis-and disinformation during contentious episodes, such as the union flag protests and the Ardoyne parade dispute. The submission can be viewed here

Research cited in UK Parliament POSTnote ‘Communicating Risk’

My CascEff research report on the role of social and traditional media in crisis communication has been cited in the UK Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology POSTnote 564: Communicating Risk. I was also one of several UK academics to be an invited reviewer of this publication. It can be downloaded here 

Submission to UK Government Inquiry on children and young people’s mental health

I am pleased to report that our written submission to the UK Government inquiry on children and young people’s mental health has been accepted and published. Based on the findings from our Wellcome Trust project, our report addresses the role of social media in raising awareness of mental health issues amongst these groups. Thanks to my co-authors Michelle O’Reilly, Nisha Dogra, Natasha Whiteman and Jason Hughes for their hard work on this.

The submission can be viewed here