In this week’s episode we hear from the London School of Economics’ professor Charlie Beckett about its Truth, Trust & Technology Commission, on the role of platforms in defining truth, whether media literacy is a good or a bad thing and whether we can still use the term “fake news” as a helpful definition.

In the news round-up, a full house of hosts discuss Hearst’s mea culpa over abandoning quality journalism in pursuit of scale, Netflix’s original content plans, and early wobbles for Facebook’s local journalism scheme.

We’re reading:

In our own words: Esther Kezia Thorpe

I got in touch with Charlie just over a month ago to schedule this interview. Just as we agreed a date, the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal broke, and I have no doubt we’ve only just seen the start of the repercussions.

Since then, Zuckerberg has been hauled in front of Congress to explain, aside from how Facebook’s ad funded model works, just how platforms are going to be able to restore people’s trust in them.

Keeping up with such developments and the wider implications for society is a challenging task. Beckett and his team at LSE have a report due out in autumn this year, and I don’t envy them the task of trying to draw out learnings while the waves of the Facebook scandal crash around them and the battle lines of GDPR are drawn out around the tech giants.

But Beckett is quietly optimistic, if not excited at the opportunities to get people involved and the interest in these issues which have now gripped the nation. This may be a UK-based commission, but Beckett is keen to emphasise that the lessons we can learn from it are global.

Beckett is also optimistic about the work publishers are doing (and the steps they can take) to restore trust and to educate on how stories are written and sourced – something Cory Haik at Mic worked out was vitally important last year. He discusses some practical tips publishers can apply to improve audience trust towards the end of the interview.

To find out more about the Truth, Trust and Technology Commission and how you can get involved, visit their website.

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