Fake news on social media a threat to democracy, say MPs

Saturday August 04 2018

The words in the House of Commons select committee report were chilling: “Without the knowledge of most politicians and election regulators across the world … a small group of individuals and businesses have been influencing elections across different jurisdictions in recent years.”

It warned: “We are facing nothing less than a crisis in our democracy based on the systematic manipulation of data to support the relentless targeting of citizens, without their consent, by campaigns of disinformation and messages of hate.”

Among developments that worried the MPs are reported Russian interference in the US election which brought Donald Trump to power and disinformation on social media that may have affected the result of the referendum for Britain to leave the European Union.


Two examples are widely quoted as dishonest claims by “Leave” campaigners.

One was that quitting Europe would mean an extra £350 million a week going to the National Health Service; the second that Turkey was poised to join the EU. Neither was true but experts say they could have influenced enough voters via Facebook or Twitter to turn the result in Leave’s favour.


The Guardian newspaper commented, “The campaigns of disinformation and messages of hate — unchecked and uncontrolled — threaten the national basis of discourse and policy-making, without which mutual trust cannot function.”

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With the summer travel season in full swing, a BBC investigation found a 50 per cent increase in arrests of drunken airline passengers.

One man swore at an attendant because he had promised his granddaughter a bacon roll and the aeroplane had none. Swearing is frequent, especially if attendants refuse to serve drunken passengers with more alcohol, and YouTube pictured two men having a fist fight on board. Other reports were of a man grabbing the breasts of women passengers and female flight attendants and of an airliner making a diversionary landing after a passenger tried to enter the cockpit.

Most often, disruptive passengers have been drinking heavily in the airport lounge before boarding and the government has indicated that restrictions on the sale of airport alcohol could be introduced. The travel industry also unveiled warnings on social media of the consequences of bad conduct.

Passengers arrested for disrupting a flight can be jailed for up to two years and fined £5,000. They could also face an airline ban and be liable for a fee of up to £80,000 if they cause a flight to be diverted.

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Beth, a Kenyan, and her partner, Hartmut, live in Germany. In 2011 they drilled a borehole at Kabati in Murang’a county and with the use of a generator, provided water for the village.

Early this year, the generator broke down irretrievably and villagers now have to walk seven miles for water. The couple are looking for a solution. If you think you can help, e-mail them at [email protected]

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A teenage girl who attached uplifting messages for people with mental health problems helped to save six lives, police said. Paige Hunter, 18, tied more than 40 notes to Wearmouth Bridge in Sunderland, expressing sentiments such as: “Even though things are difficult, your life matters; you are a shining light in a dark world, so just hold on.” Police Supt. Sarah Pitt said, “This was an innovative way to reach out to those in a dark place. Paige has shown real maturity, she should be proud of herself.”

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I told my son, “You will marry the girl I choose for you.” He said, “No.” I told him, “She is the daughter of Bill Gates.” He said, “OK.”

I called Bill Gates and said, “I want your daughter to marry my son.” He said, “No.” I said, “My son is CEO of the World Bank.” He said, “OK.”

I called the President of the World Bank and asked him to make my son the CEO. He said, “No.” I said, “My son is the son-in-law of Bill Gates.” H said, “OK.”

And that is how politics works.

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Final round of the Bible as understood by some school kids:

David was a Hebrew king who was skilled at playing the liar. He fought the Finkelsteins, a race of people who lived in biblical times.

Solomon, one of David’s sons, had 300 wives and 700 porcupines.

The people who followed the Lord were called the Twelve Decibels. The Epistels were the wives of the Apostles.

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