Thursday, 19 April 2018

Reforming the data economy

It is clear that the scandal over the misuse and manipulation of data won't go away:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and Exeter's MP once 'regarded as a crank' >>> but now questions are multiplying over the roles of Cambridge Analytica and its parent company Strategic Communications Laboratories

But it goes even deeper than that - and the problem is how to deal with 'the data economy': 

The Data Economy: Policy (or lack thereof)
By Molly Wood
April 12, 2018 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on April 11, 2018 in Washington, D.C. This is the second day of testimony before Congress by Zuckerberg, 33, after it was reported that 87 million Facebook users had their personal information harvested by Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm linked to the Trump campaign. - Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In some ways policy is the easiest thing to discuss when we’re talking about the data economy. That's because, well, there really isn’t any. During the Clinton administration, "it was a very intentional act...to let the internet flourish with a minimum of regulation," says Nuala O'Connor of the Center for Democracy and Technology.

In May, the General Data Protection Regulation will go into effect, requiring companies to get explicit permission to use people’s personal information, require them to tell customers exactly what they’ve gathered (a big sticking point in this week’s Congressional hearings with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg), and let them request that their data be deleted.

The GDPR affects any company, no matter where it’s based, that traffics in the data of anyone who lives in the EU. So it’s going to have global ramifications, and it has real teeth: the potential fines for violations are as high as 4 percent of the company’s entire revenue. One expert told me the GDPR is the reason that by late this year or early next, you could see the world’s first billion-dollar fine against a tech company.

So the future regulatory regime might not even originate in the United States, but it’s possible that we could all benefit. O’Connor said it’s probably time for a global standard for data and privacy, at this point.

“I haven't seen a member of Congress ask this question, although I would really love it if somebody would,” she says. “Which is, so tell me, you're going to give rights...to citizens of Luxembourg, when my constituents in Arkansas, or Alabama or wherever, is not entitled to that same kind of transparency and accountability?”

There are, she said, international systems already and “it's actually easier to build to one standard and give everybody the same set of rules and rights and privileges in their data.”

She says the U.S. could still benefit from a comprehensive set of privacy rules around the data economy, but worst case, much like the way California’s vehicle emissions requirements ended up forcing carmakers into an accidental global standard, the GDPR could just make it easier for companies to have better privacy rules for all.

With the perspective from the Harvard Business Review: 

The U.S. Needs a New Paradigm for Data Governance

Maya Uppaluru
APRIL 16, 2018


The U.S. Senate and House hearings last week on Facebook’s use of data and foreign interference in the U.S. election raised important challenges concerning data privacy, security, ethics, transparency, and responsibility. They also illuminated what could become a vast chasm between traditional privacy and security laws and regulations and rapidly evolving internet-related business models and activities. To help close this gap, technologists need to seriously reevaluate their relationship with government. Here are four ways to start...

Here's the perspective from the New Economics Foundation: 





In recent weeks, Cambridge Analytica has become the new bogeyman-of-choice. One little data firm is supposedly responsible for all the democratic turmoil in Europe and the US, from Brexit to Trump.

The worrying work of the data industry has been the focus of intrepid journalists like Carole Cadwalladr and Peter Geoghegan for a number of years, but until recently this research was largely ignored. The recent whistleblowing has brought Cambridge Analytica and Facebook into the full glare of the media.

But very little in this story is new.

The use of data-collection and profiling was in fact pioneered by the Obama 2012 presidential campaign, with the explicit help of Google. They used data profiling to create a new style of political campaign focused on harvesting the resources of millions of individuals through social media.

Cambridge Analytica is not the real bogeyman. In fact, it’s more like the Wizard of Oz – all show and little effect. Ultimately what they are is a great marketing company – and the jury is still out on whether they are really able to influence people in the way that they claim. 

If you’re looking for the real bogeymen, here are two good places to start.


Coverage of the Cambridge Analytica scandal has speculated about whether recent votes in the UK and the US were manipulated by targeted political content. More than demonstrating the dangers of mind-manipulation, the focus of this coverage shows the reluctance of some sections of the press to really engage with election results that they find uncomfortable.

The vote to leave the European Union in 2016 (and perhaps also the US 2017 presidential election) wasn’t caused by Facebook ads; it was driven by a deep dissatisfaction with politics, and a sense that people are living in an economic system which doesn’t work for them.

Now, this is not to say that Cambridge Analytica had no effect whatsoever on these elections – they were able to use data at the margins to influence some not to vote or to change their voting intentions. But without the structural problems to build on they would not have been successful.


That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t worry about data. But the big story of the last few weeks is about how the corporate world dominates people through the collection and misuse of their data. And that misses the other side of the story: the state.

Over the last few weeks the corporate data gathering world has been revealed – showing that Facebook not only records your likes and friends, but logs all the metadata about your text messages and calls.

But only a few years ago the media was saturated with news about the way our governments collect huge amounts of data about us. Revelations that British intelligence agencies conducted secret bulk collection of personal data demonstrate that it is not just private companies who have been guilty of misuse.

We are entering a mutually reinforcing digital panopticon where the state and corporate sector gather as much data about us as possible – with the state happy to leverage the data gathered by private companies, and the private companies happy to be allowed to do it. Those are the real bogeymen, not Alexander Nix and the rest of the Cambridge Analytica operation.


Dealing with organisations like Cambridge Analytica is relatively easy in theory. All digital activity around elections should be regulated in the same way that TV, radio or print media is – meaning that the information from a campaign which is untrue or defaming is a matter for the police. In the UK we also have very strict rules on TV advertising which could be applied to online content.

But part of the reason that we have found ourselves in this position is that it is not obvious what to do about the wider problem of data giants dominating us. Fines can be used as a signalling tool but it is debatable whether these have the transformative effect that we need for these huge and highly profitable data companies.


In the past, when companies get too big and powerful they have often been broken up. This has sometimes been successful but the nature of data companies and the platforms that they operate means that this will not necessarily work:

Firstly, one of the features that people find most useful about these large platforms is that they have everything and everybody on it. It would be hard to recreate this through many smaller platforms.

Secondly these platforms are subject to network effects – this means that as they get more people on their platforms they become much more useful. This is a world where popularity and success breed more popularity and success. Some speculate that breaking up the likes of Facebook or Google into many small companies would not result in a long-term competitive environment but would see one of the Googlets or mini-Facebooks becoming dominant, with the others subject to the inverse negative network effect as with the likes of MySpace and others.

This has led people to search for other options. If Facebook or Google are natural monopolies then this suggests another course of action: nationalisation, as suggested by the likes of Paul Mason or Nick Srnicek. There are challenges in how we might put this into practice. How do you nationalise a US-based company operating in every country in the world? How might a UK Facebook interact with other public and private Facebooks around the world? And do we trust the government to use our data any more responsibly than big corporations?

But the wider call for control over our digital economy is spot on. If we do not ensure that the platforms of the future are public or at least focus on more than the relentless pursuit of profit, then we risk letting the likes of Google, Facebook, Airbnb and Uber own and control the basic infrastructure of our 21st century society – and this is something that we cannot allow to happen.

NEF will be spending the next few months looking into various options for reforming the data economy, including the potential for platform cooperatives. Watch this space.

What conversations about Cambridge Analytica are missing | New Economics Foundation

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

A solution to our housing problems > more affordable homes for first-time buyers to be built and protection for those who rent.

How to help 'generation rent'?

Up to a third of millennials 'face renting their entire life'

Kamal Ahmed
Economics editor
@bbckamalon Twitter

17 April 2018

Image copyright GETTY IMAGES

Up to a third of young people face living in private rented accommodation all their lives, a new report by the Resolution Foundation has found.

The think tank said 40% of "millennials" - those born between 1980 and 1996 - were living in rented housing by the age of 30.

That was twice as many as "generation X" - those born between 1965 and 1980.

The government said it was already putting policies in place to improve the housing market.

The Foundation's Home Improvements report said "generation rent" needed much more help. It called for more affordable homes for first-time buyers to be built, as well as better protection for those who rent.

Although renting is often a reasonable choice for people who have few ties, the private rented sector is "far less fit for purpose" for those with children because of a lack of security.

The report reveals that a record 1.8 million families with children rent privately, up from 600,000 15 years ago.

It adds that while housing benefit should be able to help millennial families, its value has been reduced relative to the generation who came before them.

Four ways to fix the rental market 
Big landlords are trying to solve Britain's renting mess 
Renting in retirement: How feasible is it? 
Where can I afford to rent or buy?

Are you a private tenant? Share your stories

Lindsay Judge, senior policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: "Britain's housing problems have developed into a full-blown crisis and young people are bearing the brunt - paying a record share of their income on housing in return for living in smaller, rented accommodation.

"While there have been some steps recently to support housebuilding and first-time buyers, up to a third of millennials still face the prospect of renting from cradle to grave.

"If we want to tackle Britain's housing crisis we have to improve conditions for the millions of families living in private rented accommodation. That means raising standards and reducing the risks associating with renting through tenancy reform."

'Caught in a cycle of renting'

Media captionLeah Wilson told Today how difficult it was to save for a house

Leah Wilson is in her early 20s and is living with her parents and cannot afford to get on the housing ladder.

She told Radio 4's Today programme: "I've currently been saving for about two or three years now but I do find it very difficult due to the fact that my wages don't always match my expenditure and I don't always get the opportunity to save every month.

"The prices are just too ridiculous to even consider buying. I think that a lot of people my age turn to renting because it is cheaper in the beginning and you just get caught in a cycle of renting and can't save up."
Are you stuck in the rent trap? BBC News has set up a new UK Facebook group all about affordable living. 

Join the Affordable Living group here.

The report says the tax system should be changed to discourage second home ownership, reducing stamp duty for people who own one home and increasing surcharges for second home owners.

It also calls for "light touch" stabilisation policies to limit rent increases to the rate of inflation over a three-year period.

The experience of those who rent has become much more important politically as the numbers have increased.

The accountancy firm PwC predicts that as the price of owning a home rises, 7.2 million households will be in rented accommodation by 2025, compared with 5.4m now and 2.3m in 2001.

The Labour Party has already proposed a cap on rent increases, along with three-year tenancies and a licensing scheme for landlords.

The party has also said it will build more council houses.

Buying a house made "impossible" by rental costsExit player
Media captionBuying a house made "impossible" by rental costs

The Liberal Democrats are proposing a "rent-to-buy" scheme to help renters purchase the homes they live in, as well as far more shared ownership and social housing.

A Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: "Our Help to Buy scheme and the recent cut in stamp duty are helping more young first time buyers get on the property ladder. Figures show that we are seeing the highest number of first time buyers for more than a decade.

"But we're also ... giving councils stronger powers to crack down on bad landlords and consulting on stronger protections for tenants themselves."

Up to a third of millennials 'face renting their entire life' - BBC News

Beach Management Plan: on BBC Spotlight tonight and at Kennaway House Thursday 19th April

This evening, the Beach Management Plan was a feature on Spotlight:
BBC iPlayer - Spotlight - Evening News: 18/04/2018 

With commentary on the BBC: 

Sidmouth residents asked to pay £3m towards flood defences

Sophie Pierce
BBC Radio Devon
Local people and businesses in a coastal Devon town are being asked to help pay towards the cost of a new £9m flood defence scheme.
Sidmouth's eastern cliffs, which protect the town from flooding, are vulnerable and eroding at the rate of about a metre a year.

East Devon District Council is asking locals and businesses to contribute £3m towards the project.
But many locals do not see why they should pay, and are accusing the council of having wasted time and money over the last decade, "fiddling while Rome burns".
East Devon District Council is completely committed to this project. We have already invested over £500,000 of our own money into the research, investigations and all the other necessary work that is done. If we can find another £3m, we can then unlock funding just under £6m from Defra, who are the primary agency concerned with flood protection."

Tom WrightEnvironment Porfolio, East Devon District Council

BBC Local Live: Devon & Cornwall - BBC News

The Plan will be on show tomorrow:
Futures Forum: Beach Management Plan: public exhibition 19th April > an opportunity for local people to learn more about outline design to help flooding and erosion in Sidmouth

With the Herald giving further info:

Exhibition on Sidmouth Beach Management Plan to be held in Sidmouth

PUBLISHED: 12:00 14 April 2018
This photograph of Pennington Point and East Cliff was taken for the BMP by a drone at lower altitude. If you look carefully you can see circular waves with their centre at the end of the river training wall. This is wave diffraction and it can cause erosion.

This photograph of Pennington Point and East Cliff was taken for the BMP by a drone at lower altitude. If you look carefully you can see circular waves with their centre at the end of the river training wall. This is wave diffraction and it can cause erosion.

A public exhibition showcasing the latest works on the Sidmouth Beach Management Plan (BMP) will take place next week.

The event will be held at Kennaway House between 1pm and 7pm next Thursday (April 19).
Those who attend will be given the opportunity to learn about the background of the outline design for the East Devon District Council scheme.
The drive aims to reduce the risk of flooding to Sidmouth by maintaining the standard of defences along the beach and to reduce the rate of erosion to the cliffs to the east of the town.
Royal HaskoningDHV will be on hand to answer questions and residents will also be asked for their views.
Devon County Council will also be displaying information about the replacement Alma Bridge, in advance of submitting its planning application.
Councillor Tom Wright, BMP steering group’s chairman, said: “A lot of effort has gone into bringing forwards a scheme for Sidmouth and East Beach, so it would be great to see local people coming along to learn more about what the scheme could look like and to give us their views.”

Exhibition on Sidmouth Beach Management Plan to be held in Sidmouth | Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald

Brexit: and immigration

A year ago there were already problems recruiting nurses, as reported in the Telegraph:
Number of EU nurses coming to UK falls 90 per cent since Brexit vote - Telegraph

And as reported on this blog:

Futures Forum: Brexit: and the NHS in Devon
Brexit adding to NHS cash and staff shortages, says Devon consultant | Plymouth Herald

Six months ago, this was further confirmed:

Brexit blamed as nursing numbers fall for first time in years - iNews
NHS faces worst ever nursing workforce crisis as Brexit blamed for 96% drop in EU nurses - Mirror Online

And over the past weeks, there have been reports from the front line about how this is effecting services:

Brexit has led to major problem in number of nurses at Hull hospitals, NHS Trust warns - Hull Daily Mail
Brexit: London's social care services to 'plunge into crisis' amid threat to EU workers in capital, Sadiq Khan warns | The Independent

Of course, many nurses are not only from the EU - but also from the former colonies, as the furore over the Windrush generation has shown: 

It is as outrageous to threaten with deportation the 70-year-old woman who was born in Jamaica but who has worked as a nurse and a mum in Britain for decades as it would be to throw May out of the country. We now know how blind bureaucracy can be to common sense and basic decency. Did no one at the Home Office stop to think of the impact the new rules would have on these older migrants? Did no one in the detention system wonder why elderly, respectable Caribbean women were suddenly being shoved into cells?

Why Theresa May is to blame for the Windrush scandal | Coffee House
Windrush generation: Postwar Britain welcomed these workers. Brexit Britain wants proof they belong. - The Washington Post

It is clear that much of the Brexit campaign was fought on two main issues - which are now very much coming together:

> the NHS, as the highly effective advertisment proved: 


Vote Leave Campaign Advert - Which NHS Would You Choose? - YouTube

> and immigration, as reported in this blog:

Futures Forum: Brexit: and our dependence on foreign goods and labour
Futures Forum: Brexit: and East Europeans in the West Country
Futures Forum: Brexit: and the day the immigrants left

And as the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee is discovering and as reported by the Mail: 

Leave campaign `deliberately stoked outrage´ in Brexit campaign

A key figure in the campaign to take Britain out of the EU has privately acknowledged that they deliberately used “outrageous” and “provocative” tactics to keep immigration at the top of the referendum debate. Speaking to an academic researcher, Andy Wigmore appeared to compare the process to the “very clever” propaganda techniques of the Nazis. Mr Wigmore was communications director for the Leave.EU campaign fronted by then Ukip leader Nigel Farage and funded by millionaire Arron Banks.
His comments were described as “particularly concerning” by Damian Collins, the chairman of the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the phenomenon of “fake news”. But Mr Wigmore retorted that the committee itself was “complicit in creating a fake news agenda designed to bring down Brexit”.
In interview recordings released by the committee, Mr Wigmore can be heard discussing Leave.EU’s contacts with the controversial company Cambridge Analytica, which has come under fire over the use of Facebook users’ personal data in Donald Trump’s race for the US presidency.
Mr Wigmore states that CA did no work for Leave.EU after it failed in its bid to be named lead Brexit campaigner. But he said that Leave.EU “copied” CA’s methods for pinpointing groups believed to be susceptible to specific messages. And he suggested that actuaries from Mr Banks’s Eldon Insurance used probability calculations to identify areas where Mr Farage should campaign.
Mr Wigmore was among a number of figures from the Leave campaign and companies linked to Cambridge Analytica who spoke to Essex University researcher Emma Briant for an upcoming book on the Trump campaign. He told Dr Briant that Leave.EU “completely, completely, completely” copied Trump’s campaign technique of making attention-grabbing and controversial comments.
“The only way we were going to make a noise was to follow the Trump doctrine, which was: the more outrageous we are, the more attention we’ll get, and the more attention we get, the more outrageous we’ll be,” said Mr Wigmore. “And that’s exactly what we did.” He admitted that the campaigners were “unsure constantly if we were doing the right thing” and were concerned they would be blamed for creating “a wave of hatred and racism”.
After the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox, he said the campaign thought that “maybe we have gone too far”, with Mr Farage fearing Leave would lose the referendum vote a few days later. But he said that in the event there was “no shift in the dial” from voters outside London who “understood” the message behind Ukip’s controversial Breaking Point poster.
Nigel Farage launches the controversial Breaking Point poster during the referendum campaign (Philip Toscano/PA)

Nigel Farage launches the controversial Breaking Point poster during the referendum campaign (Philip Toscano/PA)
Mr Wigmore told Dr Briant: “The propaganda machine of the Nazis, for instance – you take away all the hideous horror and that kind of stuff, it was very clever, the way they managed to do what they did. In its pure marketing sense, you can see the logic of what they were saying, why they were saying it, and how they presented things, and the imagery. And looking at that now, in hindsight, having been on the sharp end of this campaign, you think: crikey, this is not new, and it’s just … using the tools that you have at the time.”
His comment was echoed by the chief executive of CA’s parent company SCL Group, Nigel Oakes, who told Dr Briant that Mr Trump “leveraged an artificial enemy” in the shape of the Muslims in the same way that Adolf Hitler played on pre-war German hatred for Jews.
Mr Oakes insisted that CA did not work for the Leave.EU campaign, but had made presentations as part of a bid for a contract had the group been designated lead campaigners. He also told Dr Briant that CA’s suspended CEO Alexander Nix had approached Julian Assange to offer to help him to release leaked emails from Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign, but was turned down by the Wikileaks founder.
Mr Collins said that the recordings gave a “unique insight” into the thinking of those at the top of the Leave.EU campaign, and said references to the Nazis were “particularly concerning”.
“Andy Wigmore states that he believes that the propaganda techniques of the Nazi’s were ‘very clever’,” said Mr Collins. “He also confirms that exploiting voters’ concerns about immigration was central to their campaign during the Brexit referendum. Given the extreme messaging around immigration that was used during the referendum campaign, these statements will raise concerns that data analytics was used to target voters who were concerned about this issue, and to frighten them with messaging designed to create ‘an artificial enemy’ for them to act against.”
Mr Collins said Dr Briant’s research made clear that Leave.EU benefited from their work with CA, and said the campaign had questions to answer about how it developed its database.
But Mr Wigmore said that the release “sounds like another attempt to try and justify a committee that is desperate to try and find any excuse to undermine the referendum”. He said his conversations with Dr Briant were not for publication and described their release as “wilful deception and trickery”.
Leave.EU chairman Arron Banks accused the committee of creating fake news (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Leave.EU chairman Arron Banks accused the committee of creating fake news (Jonathan Brady/PA)
The Nazis came up for discussion “in a historical context” in reference to the scare tactics being used by the Remain campaign, said Mr Wigmore. He repeated Leave.EU’s denial that it used CA, and added that “no actuaries were employed on our campaign”.
“Immigration was the key issue in pretty much all polling,” said Mr Wigmore. “Facts are not scare tactics, if that’s what people feel is their concerns, and it was our opinion that we had to keep that top of the agenda in line with our polling and the strategy of Nigel Farage.”
Mr Banks said that the committee was “too scared to call me to give evidence”. And he added: “Monty Python couldn’t make this up: a Parliament Committee inquiry into fake news creating fake news to then investigate fake news.”
CA said Mr Oakes had never worked for the company and “did not work on the Trump campaign in any way whatsoever”.
A spokesman said: “Mr Oakes was speaking in a personal capacity about the historical use of propaganda to an academic he knew well from her work in the defence sphere. These are comments that have already been reported on in the media in the past few years. Like much of the reporting surrounding our company, Dr Briant’s ‘explanatory essays’ contain uncontextualized comments, unsubstantiated assertions and the joining together of dots to establish a picture that suits the authors.”

Leave campaign `deliberately stoked outrage´ in Brexit campaign | Daily Mail Online

It's been quite a story:
Fake news inquiry raises concerns over targeting of voters in Brexit referendum | Politics | The Guardian

And it carries a lot of further baggage:
Leave.EU, Arron Banks and new questions about referendum funding | Politics | The Guardian
Vote Leave broke spending limits on industrial scale, says former staffer | Politics | The Guardian
We need to talk about Arron | openDemocracy

Which is of interest to the MP for Exeter:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and Exeter's MP raising questions
Futures Forum: Brexit: and Exeter's MP once 'regarded as a crank' >>> but now questions are multiplying over the roles of Cambridge Analytica and its parent company Strategic Communications Laboratories
Futures Forum: Brexit: and Exeter's MP's demanding that the government 'comes clean'

Here's the opening and close of a very interesting piece:

Brexit and bias? The framing of immigrants in the media

From the ‘I am an immigrant’ poster campaign, a Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and Movement Against Xenophobia effort to “challenge the negative rhetoric against immigrants, celebrate them and provide their story.”

Recently, Facebook's confirmed sharing of 50 million profiles with Cambridge Analytica has made big headlines, especially in connection to the US. But reports of this collusion have been in the news for some time in the UK, particularly in relation to the 2016 national referendum to leave the European Union otherwise known as “Brexit.” In journalist Carole Cadwalladr's words last year, democracy itself was “hijacked” through Cambridge Analytica operations; her report called it the “Great British Brexit Robbery” (a report that is still the subject of legal complaints).
To what extent technological platforms have been used to shape public response is a matter of strong concern, as with the case of Brexit. Anyone who has been paying attention to Britain's departure from the European Union next year knows that it is a topic that provokes intense emotion. So, is there something in the topic of Brexit that disinformation efforts can take advantage of? What perspectives might a high-level, data-driven analysis of Brexit news provide?
According to a Media Cloud collection of US and UK media mainstream sources, and a web crawl of outlets connected to them, the topic of Brexit has appeared in approximately 70,000 stories between 1 March 2017 and 28 February 2018.
What is Media Cloud?
Media Cloud is an open source platform developed by the MIT Center for Civic Media and the Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. Media Cloud is designed to aggregate, analyze, deliver and visualize information while answering complex quantitative and qualitative questions about the content of online media.
Major themes that emerged in Media Cloud included a number of expected key terms such as references to the US election and the UK referendum and prominent politicians such as Teresa May or Boris Johnson.
However, when focusing on topics related to potential motivations behind Brexit among the terms, the issue of the economy appears to be more frequent. In addition, a prominent topic of discussion in the media was immigration.

This is an ordered word cloud of a sample of stories that contained “Brexit” in Media Cloud. The words that show up more often appear bigger and show up first in the list. (View larger image)
Exactly how were these topics discussed in US and UK media in relationship to Brexit?

The Negative Tenor of Immigration

To get a sense of the tenor of the conversation around immigration, our Bias Prismtool processed key terms related to the discussions around immigration. Bias Prism is a Natural Language Processing tool that analyzes language for expressions of personal perspective and potential bias.
What is Bias Prism?
Bias Prism is an experimental feature being developed by the Georgia Tech's Behavioral Modeling and Computational Social Systems Group in partnership with NewsFrames. Results from Natural Language Processing algorithms signal a number of possible ways that texts may be using perspectival or biased language. Learn More >>
The Bias Prism tool aims to offer more precise ways of thinking about the presence of perspective or bias in statements. Rather than producing a “biased/not biased” result, researchers are able to analyze texts through a number of considerations such as sentiment or expressions of doubt.
Comparing the samples of key terms flagged for further inspection, stories talking about immigration used more terms — like “damaging,” “anxieties,” “crisis” — that signaled perspectives and emotions than were used when discussing the economy, even though there were many more sentences about the economy.
Exploring the stories in context further, the key terms of immigrant or immigrantsalso came to the fore. They followed the same pattern, with Bias Prism results around immigrant appearing slightly still more perspectival or biased than those around immigration.
Framing can be a natural human response to interpreting complex situations. The struggle for understanding around the issue of immigration is partly the result of the struggle for large scale integration, which includes major shifts in population around the world as a whole and particularly in the UK. In the UK, if the number of immigrants has doubled in the past 25 years, then increased encounters with new citizens and new ideas naturally generate conversations about what makes up British culture.
And it's also worth remembering that UK citizens migrate themselves and are part of integration conversations elsewhere. In fact, the United Kingdom numbered among the top 10 countries in 2015 that provide migrants to the rest of the world.
The question here is about the larger frame, in this case, the overall tenor around immigrants in the media, which appears rather negative. Frames are necessary but also tricky things. Even if it is accurate in relaying the fears of others, the weight of the media's overall framing on stories related to immigration may inadvertently be amplifying the perspectives they are reporting on.
Fears of manipulation generated by the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal do remind us that it is not just false information but human interpretations around facts or political beliefs that disinformation campaigns can be built upon.
What can trustworthy media outlets do to foster healthy discussions about the values around immigration, and share more facts about immigrants and their values? Perhaps answering this question, and thinking about the frame, can go towards building the sort of place we all want to live in.

Brexit and bias? The framing of immigrants in the media · Global Voices

To finish: