Saturday, 3 June 2017

Fake news and the general election in Devon

A couple of weeks ago, the local news media network announced its determination to stay clear of 'fake news':
Futures Forum: Fake news, the UK general election and local news
​In an age of fake stories we always provide trusted news | Devon Live
Join the DevonLive news conference live on Facebook as part of Trusted News Day | Devon Live

Although to what extent the PR coming out of local government can be countered...
Futures Forum: Debunking fake news in East Devon with 'on-line open-source investigation'

On a national scale, there have been big headline stories over the use of 'fake news' by one side:
Tory attack ad misrepresents Corbyn views on IRA, says Labour | Politics | The Guardian
Tories slammed for 'fake news' video suggesting Jeremy Corbyn refused to condemn IRA - Mirror Online

And the other:
General Election: Corbyn's campaign 'promoted by fake Twitter accounts' | UK | News | Express.co.uk
Pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to tackle fake Twitter accounts posting support for him online - Telegraph
Fake Twitter accounts send thousands of pro Labour posts | Daily Mail Online

In view of the possible interference of Russia in the Brexit vote...
Futures Forum: Brexit: and the use of data analytics

... here's an interesting interview with the Russian owner of the London Standard:
Lebedev on U.K. Election, Brexit, Fake News - Bloomberg Politics

Meanwhile, in Devon, there have been a couple of news stories about 'fake news' - which might impact on the election:

Hospital calls 'fake news' on NHS funding Facebook post

By JoelCooper | Posted: May 31, 2017

A social media post suggesting two Devon hospital departments will be axed after the general election has been dismissed as inaccurate and "not based in fact".

The post, which has been shared on both Facebook and Twitter, stated that a decision had been made to close down the A&E and maternity wards at North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple.

Many raised suspicions about the validity of the post on Facebook, and today the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust have rebutted the claims, saying they are "not accurate" and "not based in fact".

Dr Alison Diamond, chief executive of the Trust, said: "A post on Facebook has been widely shared stating that the emergency department and maternity unit are closing at North Devon District Hospital, and that staff have been asked not to speak about this closure until after the election.

"This is not accurate. The facts are that urgent and emergency, stroke and maternity services are being reviewed as part of the acute services review. This review is one of seven priorities outlined in the Sustainability and Transformation Plan for wider Devon.

"Clinicians and patient representatives are meeting regularly to look at how acute services can be delivered in a safe, effective way across Devon, in line with best practice. This work has not concluded. Therefore any posts on social media that claim to know the outcome of the acute services review are not based in fact."

Local people have been raising concerns about the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) and Acute Services Review - which could effect maternity, stroke and A&E services at the hospital - since they were set in motion last year.

It is understood that no decisions will be made until after the general election.

Hospital calls 'fake news' on NHS funding Facebook post | Devon Live

With something a little different:

Council erase Vote Labour graffiti from Exeter underpass

By Alex_Richards | Posted: May 24, 2017

A wall is being scrubbed clean by the council, after street artists invited to decorate it went off-brief and painted an array of pro-Labour slogans.

The artworks at Exe Bridges were designed by Bristol street artist John D'oh on Sunday, and the installation was documented by professional street art photographer, known as 'Harry.'

While the Bristol artists were invited to decorate the walls, they were told not to attach political slogans. A brief which they failed to keep to.

Cleo Heard, who negotiates artwork for the underpasses with Devon County Council, says the project is a "trust exercise" and they were given clear instructions what they could, and could not, paint.

Despite this, Harry says the works are "art of the people, for the people" in a "free country with free expression."

He believes works are acceptable, as they are legal walls for street artists to paint - as long as they are 'non offensive and appropriate."

He added that graffiti artists representing other political parties were invited to add their own artwork alongside them.

However Devon County Council has confirmed that the street are is "unofficial, not DCC endorsed or commissioned."

They are currently working with Exeter City Council to have it removed.

John D'oh, in a statement sent to Devon Live, explains why he created the works: "I could probably fill a whole page but the short answer is I am hoping my art might encourage people to vote and at the same time raise a smile or two.

"I think the general public are starting to realise that the Conservative Party are relying on slandering Jeremy Corbyn, hiding behind a catch phrase (strong and stable) and have no policies or solutions to rectify the damage they have inflicted on the country.

"Before voting just compare both manifestos and don't believe fake news. The writing is on the wall. Happy voting."

Council erase Vote Labour graffiti from Exeter underpass | Devon Live

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