Has been an issue for a long time, and it’s only getting worse. For some of us, it’s been a notorious issue for as long as we can remember. JournoLink ran a survey of 1,000 people in the UK, and found that “45% of the British public believe they encounter fake news online every single day (data from our own Google Survey run from 12th to 14th July 2019)”. The survey also found that “at its peak, there were around 200 million monthly engagements with fake news stories on Facebook”.
In the UK, the current prime minister and the leader of the Conservative Party is Boris Johnson, placed into power in 2019. The region is governed within the framework of a constitutional monarchy, with the current monarch remaining Queen Elizabeth II. The United Kingdom, which is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, has a current population of roughly an “estimated 67.7 million.
An interesting aspect of government in the UK is how it is one of the few countries of the world that does not have a written constitution.
They have, rather, what is known as an “uncodified constitution”. In their article “Britain’s unwritten constitution”, the British Library explains it as such: “In Britain we certainly say that we have a constitution, but it is one that exists in an abstract sense, comprising a host of diverse laws, practices, and conventions that have evolved over a long period of time.” Currently, widespread news of Brexit seems to be one of the biggest current events facing the UK.
Brexit is the name that refers to the exit of the UK from the European Union (EU) by the end of this month. A public vote was held back in June of 2016 to decide this when a total of “17.4 million people opted for Brexit” (BBC). As citizens have a free press, these news topics and current events are very widespread in the media, so most people not even residing in the area are made quickly aware of these things as well.
Brexit seems to be near impossible to completely understand, and the journalists assigned with covering and portraying this to audiences find that this is an especially difficult task. This holds especially true to when information is directed to people who aren’t even the citizens being impacted by the big decision. The citizens of the region, however, are majorly impacted by platforms seeking to manipulate people through the media, for voters who fall for the fake news being fed to them by these untrustworthy platforms. Voters are a vastly important stakeholder in the grand scheme and spread of fake news. Some platforms target their users through ads, posts, and surveys that aim to sway voters to affect the polls in the long run. In their article “Cambridge Analytica: how did it turn clicks into votes?”, the Guardian provides support to this when they state that “algorithms combined the data with other sources such as voter records to create a superior set of records, with hundreds of data points per person.
These individuals could then be targeted with highly personalized advertising based on their personality data.” However, some voters and citizens choose to ignore the obvious and still allow their data to be used to target themselves and other voters. The spread of fake news is getting increasingly broader as major news events such as these present themselves. Journalism platforms that cover these topics often sway to one side or another when presenting the information, showing biases or may contain false information, making it more and more difficult to decipher between what’s true or credible and what is not. As said by The Guardian, “People are on red alert for bias. They have come to suspect misinformation and propaganda where it does not necessarily exist.” Some people are not as fast to catch onto this, and still make the mistake of not fact-checking before spreading the information online; media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and especially Cambridge Analytica, are where this fake news is commonly spread.
Many people are guilty of making the simple mistake of not fact-checking sources before they post things online. This contributes to the spread of misinformation. According to the article “Solutions That Can Stop Fake News Spreading” by Mike Wendling from BBC News, “British parliamentarians are launching a committee to look at the problem.” Facebook is also stepping in to try and tackle the issue by allowing users in the US and Germany to flag articles that they think are fake news or false; these are then read by third-party fact-checkers from organizations like the Washington Post. Mike Wendling also suggests in his article that “another warning appears if users try to share the story, although Facebook doesn’t prevent such sharing or delete the fake news story. The ‘fake’ tag will however negatively impact the story’s score in Facebook’s algorithm, meaning that fewer people will see it pop up in their news feeds.” This could and will, hopefully, reduce the issue.
Circling back around to the closely-related topic of Brexit, one large-scale solution would be more of a complex yet simple idea; what if the UK simply didn’t leave the EU? What if Britain actually leaves the EU on January 31, 2020, like planned and leave without a trade deal? If they do so, it will hurt their economy. It will also hurt their trade with the US. Thus, there is not a huge reason to leave. In their article “The Limitations of the U.S. Approach to Brexit”, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace states that “Trump’s immediate reaction to the Brexit withdrawal agreement was to not only criticize the deal but to also suggest that it would damage U.S.-UK trade, further jeopardizing the deal’s December vote in the House of Commons and undermining Prime Minister Theresa May’s already vulnerable political situation. A no-deal scenario would negatively impact several crucial U.S. political, security, and economic interests vis-à-vis the UK and Europe.” Some of the population doesn’t even want to leave the EU. Catherine Boyle from CNBC supports and adds to this when they say that “Recent tests of public opinion, such as the Scottish independence referendum and the election, suggest the British public likes the status quo. Opinion polls suggest around 39 percent would vote to quit the EU in a referendum.”
One large scale solution Great Britain could consider to resolve their Brexit problem would have a government shutdown. These may occur when there is a failure to pass funding of legislation to finance the government for its fiscal year. Government Officials usually use this amount of free time to either evaluate the situation or to make a final solution to the problem. Short-term wise, it’s really beneficial for both the country and its citizens since it allows lots of time to evaluate the situation. However, when it becomes long term it usually creates lots of tension for the country because the longer it goes on the more the problem gets worse. Past and current world leaders have declared government shutdowns in the past as somewhat of an ultimatum to achieve what they demand, or in conflicts between branches of government. There are ultimately many reasons a government shutdown can occur or be provoked.