Wednesday January 29, 2020

UK election lays bare social media’s distorting effect

The online reaction to a picture of a boy lying on a hospital floor showed how quickly misinformation can spread. Some journalists’ response to the fallout was even more concerning

12th December, 2019
Boris Johnson on the campaign trail: all political parties have increased their spending dramatically on social media in the British general election. Picture: Getty

When a mother sent a picture of her four-year-old son lying on coats on the floor of a Leeds hospital to the local newspaper this week, she might have suspected that it would be of interest to voters. She could not have imagined, however, that the image of her boy, Jack, who had suspected pneumonia, would become a flashpoint in Britain’s ragged election.

By itself, it was no surprise that the picture and...

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