Here at BIR we have been looking into the rise in mis-information and fake news – is it a result of the ease of publishing created by social media platforms, or has it always been around? I think it is certainly more obvious now that it ever was before and perhaps too because some of what is said online can be just too outrageous. I also think that for me there is an element of having more trust in the printed word rather than the digital one which is perhaps just a generation thing! I was intrigued by an episode of the BBC programme The Big Questions aired on Sunday 15th January 2017. The programme was entitled “Is digital media good for democracy?” With representations from the Guardian, Channel 4, Labour and Conservative parties and UEL (University of East London) to name a few, it was a varied and interesting discussion covering many aspects of communication on social media platforms. Fake news was a topic covered in quite some depth and it was interesting to note that no form of media was exempt from having produced fake news at some point or other in the past though it was re-iterated several times that TV is covered by the strictest regulations of any form of media now. When regulation was considered as something needed for social media platforms heated discussions ensued on the importance of freedom of speech and expression on these platforms. When we consider that social media platforms are increasingly being relied on as a source of information and news, – Mentioned on the programme was the fact that although some people use traditional sources of media (newspapers and TV) as trusted sources, there are others who solely use digital media sources as their trusted sources for information. – should social media platforms not be subject to similar types of regulations to aid the process of ensuring that what is being published is truthful and reliable? The full programme is available to view on BBC iPlayer for another 10 days here http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08bb6rd/the-big-questions-series-10-episode-2 To help us combat the deluge of fake news and at least be able to identify what is definitely fake a number of tech products have been developed to help – extensions from Chrome and others have become available since the US election. Facebook has also developed tech to identify fake news for its users too. At Mashable.com there is an interesting article reflecting on the topic and the new tech available which you can read here http://mashable.com/2016/12/20/only-one-way-stop-fake-news/#B5DMt5r35gqS As however, they point out in this article it ultimately comes down to us as individuals to identify and stop the publishing of fake news. We can try to fact check everything we read but this is a very lengthy process. It was pointed out in BBC’s The Big Questions episode on digital media and democracy that it can take days to thoroughly check a fact. The next best thing is to develop a portfolio of trusted sources that you can be absolutely sure are publishing accurate information though this is something that you would still need to personally re-validate every so often. The challenge of fake news is certainly a complex and difficult one to resolve.