I’m surprised this hasn’t got more attention, but there’s an interview with David Cameron this week on sifted — which bills itself as the “new media site for Europe’s innovators and entrepreneurs.”
They asked the former Prime minister about the regulation of social media: ” …you describe how the Leveson inquiry in 2012 led to the establishment of a new, robust regulatory body for the UK’s press and media, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). You comment how surprised you were at the lack of attention given to online and social media. Do you think that it’s time for a full review of these new forms of media?”
Cameron didn’t hold back:
Interesting stuff — except that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. For a succinct takedown, I’d recommend a Twitter thread by Rasmus Kleis Neilsen, a professor of political communication at Oxford:
Oh and then the factual inaccuracies – people do in fact take online news with "a pinch of salt" (a truckload, actually). @risj_oxford shows 40% in UK say they trust most news, just 22% trust news in search, and only 10% news in social https://t.co/Wlh1BfGDUX
— Rasmus Kleis Nielsen (@rasmus_kleis) November 12, 2019
The good professor isn’t claiming that there’s nothing to worry about — only that we shouldn’t do media policy on “such shaky and shifty foundations.”
It’s an irony that there’s so much fake news about fake news. Unfortunately the whole concept is simply too convenient for failing politicians and the struggling mainstream media not to seize upon. Rather than facing up to one’s own mistakes and weaknesses, its easier to imagine that only reason why the people have rejected you is because they’ve been bamboozled by the sinister force of technological wizardry — not to mention that age-old excuse ‘foreign interference’.
Neilsen is right, concerns over social media aren’t without foundation. But as our political and cultural elites contemplate their misfortunes they should be clear as to where the bulk of the blame lies — themselves.