Interviewed for Bored Panda article on people sharing instant reactions on social media

Bored Panda interview about how people share content on social media

I was interviewed by Ieva Gailiūtė for Lithuanian publication Bored Panda this week. We discussed why people share things on social media without checking their accuracy, and the negative impacts of people being shamed for historic posts. 

Some quotes from the interview are below:

When asked why social media users often share their thoughts without thinking twice, Dr. Reilly explained the design of online platforms encourages instant responses and reactions. “The stories, images and posts that feature prominently in our social media timelines are often the most likely to elicit emotional responses from us.”

“The ‘publish then filter’ model of these sites also means our opinions are published immediately with no cooling off period for us to consider whether we want to post them or not,” he added.

When asked whether our online contributions always become permanent, Dr. Reilly told us, “Yes and No. It’s true that social media posts are no longer your property when you share them publicly, or even privately given that they can be shared by others. Even on encrypted apps like WhatsApp and Snapchat, people can take screenshots of content deleted by others and share them later.”

“However, there needs to be a motivation for someone to do this,” he continued. “This is why we see so many politicians being shamed for historic (and often deleted) social media posts. The consequences can be severe, ranging from embarrassment, reputational harm, people losing jobs and even worse.” Especially because sometimes, digital content can be made permanent in ways we never imagined. The posts can be changed, modified, or altered into something completely different from what they originally intended to be.

“People should ideally verify the information before they share it, but many don’t,” he said. “However, it should also be noted that people are better at detecting ‘fake news’ and disinformation than they are often given credit for.”

So even when we can essentially say whatever we want online — whether it’s objectively true or not — and not really have very serious consequences for it, we should all strive to make social media a better place. “Read the story before you share it. Satisfy yourself that it is based on an authoritative source. If it makes you feel an extreme emotion then be wary — this is often a sign that it is disinformation designed to polarize audiences,” Dr. Reilly concluded.

Many thanks to Ieva for the invitation. The article can be read here

Interviewed on BBC Three Counties Radio about Elon Musk takeover of Twitter

Elon Musk floated the idea to charge governments and companies on the microblogging site

Yesterday I was interviewed by Roberto Perrone on BBC Three Counties Radio about Elon Musk’s proposal to charge commercial companies and governments to use the platform. I raised some questions about the desirability and feasibility of Musk’s plan to make algorithms open source, authenticate humans and remove bots, and whether users might leave the site if these charges are introduced.

Thanks to Rob, Usman, and the BBC Three Counties Radio team for the interview. 

It can be accessed here

BBC Radio WM interview on social media and’fake news’ during Ukrainian conflict   

Footage from a 2020 TV series was shared to suggest the Ukraine war was a hoax

Yesterday I was interviewed by Elise Evans on BBC Radio WM Breakfast about social media and ‘fake news’ during the Ukrainian conflict. This was in response to a report that footage from a disaster movie filmed in Birmingham had been used on social media to suggest the war was a hoax.

We discussed what online platforms are doing to deal with ‘fake news’ and how we can identify false images and videos circulating online.

Thanks to Elise, Louise, Megan and the BBC Radio WM team for the interview.

It can be accessed here

Interview about Facebook and polarisation on YLE News (Finland)

Interviewed by Egan Richardson, YLE News (Finland) about Facebook and polarisation

This week I was interviewed by Egan Richardson for the All Points North podcast on YLE News (Finland). In light of the decision by YLE News to stop comments on its Facebook posts, we discussed the role of social media platforms in amplifying polarisation and the efficacy of their responses to problems such as hate speech and misinformation. I argued that online platforms often engage in PR exercises to deal with issues such as hate speech and misinformation. Self-regulation is an insufficient policy response to online harms.

A blogpost summarising the interview can be read here and the audio can be accessed here (the segment begins around 16:30).

Many thanks to Egan for the invitation and the interesting chat- great to see a former #digiadvocate doing so well in their career!

BBC Radio Derby interview on social media and ‘fake news’

the photoshopped image of a road sign outside Burton was reported in the Daily Mail

Yesterday I was interviewed by Andy Twigge on Breakfast on BBC Radio Derby about social media and ‘fake news’. This was in response to a photoshopped image of a road sign in Burton which had circulated on Facebook, before being reported in national media outlets like the Daily Mail and the Mirror. We discussed the reasons why people share ‘fake news’, how we should respond to this, and whether we need a ‘cooling off’ period before posting content online.

Thanks to Andy, Jonathan and the BBC Radio Derby team for the interview. It can be accessed here

Yorkshire Post interview about COVID-19 misinformation

Yorkshire Post special issue on COVID-19, 30 January 2021.

I was interviewed last week for an article that appeared in Saturday’s edition of the Yorkshire Post. As part of their special news report to mark the anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was asked to comment on the impact of misinformation on vaccine hesitancy, and the reasons why people may believe false information about the virus and its treatment.

The article can be read here. Many thanks to Geri Scott for her time and the interview.

Interviewed about Trump and social media conspiracy theories

Image of protesters at Capitol Building, Washington D.C, 6 January 2021

Yesterday I was interviewed by Stephen Jones (Press Association) about Donald Trump’s role in amplifying disinformation about the 2020 US Presidential Election. We discussed a variety of issues, including the rise of the right-wing information ecosystem in the US, how social media companies like Facebook have responded to disinformation campaigns, and Trump’s use of online platforms to question the credibility of the 2020 US Election result.

Thanks to Stephen for the interview, which can be read in the following publications:

UK politicians warned after Trump ‘incites’ riots at Capitol building, Belfast Telegraph, 7 January 2021. 

UK politicians warned after Trump ‘incites’ riots at Capitol building, Express and Star, 7 January 2021. 

UK politicians warned after Trump ‘incites riots at Capitol building, Oxford Mail, 7 January 2021.

UK politicians warned after Trump ‘incites riots at Capitol building, Salford City News, 7 January 2021.

UK politicians warned after Trump ‘incites riots at Capitol building, The London Economic, 7 January 2021.

UK politicians warned after Trump ‘incites riots at Capitol building, Winsford Guardian, 7 January 2021.

Northern Slant interview about new book

Interview with Connor Daly, Northern Slant, 19 December 2020

I was interviewed by Connor Daly from Northern Slant last week. We spoke about my new book Digital Contention in a Divided Society, due out on 19 January 2021. Among the topics discussed were the flag protests as a watershed moment for digital citizenship in Northern Ireland, the prospects of social media improving community relations, and the problems associated with using social media as a barometer of public opinion.

Many thanks to Connor and Jenny for the opportunity and their help in bringing this to fruition. Hopefully there will be a podcast in the New Year during which we will discuss these issues further.

Digital Contention can be preordered online now The Northern Slant interview can be read be read here

BBC Radio Foyle interview on US legal action against Facebook

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Yesterday I was interviewed by David Hunter on BBC Radio Foyle’s The News at One on the US government antitrust lawsuit against Facebook. We discussed the precedent for this effort to break up Facebook’s control of other social media platforms and services, and the implications for citizens’ rights if this action is successful.

Thanks to David, Dean McLaughlin and BBC Radio Foyle for the invitation. The interview can be heard here

BBC Radio Sheffield interview on misinformation

Social media companies have come under pressure to tackle COVID-19 misinformation

This morning I was interviewed by Toby Foster on BBC Radio Sheffield about the misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19 circulating on social media. We talked about how we as citizens should respond to false and misleading information online and how governments and social media companies might take stronger action to address it.

Many thanks to Toby, Katie and Robert at BBC Radio Sheffield for their help with this- enjoyed it!

The interview can be listened to here