tv The Media Show BBC News October 31, 2021 3:30pm-4:01pm GMT
at the 620 summit in rome, prince charles calls for more action on tackling climate change and warns leaders of what he calls their overwhelming responsibility to generations yet unborn. now on bbc news, it's the media show. hello, it's been another bad week for facebook. on monday, the world's biggest news brands published a coordinated series of stories all based on whistle—blower frances haugen and her trove of leaked documents. so, how did haugen, a product manager, come to have such a strong media pr and support? and has anything new been revealed this week? and whilst facebook might be facing difficulties in the real world, that has not stopped them investing heavily in an alternative
reality future. so what exactly is the metaverse? and how soon before we are all living in it? well, joining me to discuss all of that is my panel of guests. nicola millard is a presenter, writer and principal innovation partner at bt. nicola, what is a principal innovation partner and why does bt need one? good question, well, i used to be bt�*s futurologist and i got very tired of the crystal balljokes. i do have one, it doesn't work. but my role is i am part of bt�*s innovation team. i am here to innovate with and for our customers. very good. lauren goode is a senior writer at wired. lauren, you host the get wired podcast. what sort of thing does that cover? the get wired podcast, we highlight some of wired's most impactful stories and we kind of explore the intersection of technology and humanity. that's the best way i would describe it. we will hear a bit more from you and nicola slightly later on in the show. also with us today
is madhumita murgia. european tech correspondent at the financial times. maddie, you have been spending a lot of your time following silicon valley at the moment. yes, that's right. we have been part of quite a big i project looking at several hundred documents that were leaked - from facebook, and so we have kind of, it's been a team effort. people have been looking . at them and analysing them together as a group. and last but definitely not least is emily birnbaum, tech lobbying reporter at politico. so, emily, let's start with you because as maddie just said facebook has been doing a lot of lobbying and pr this past week. we have heard whistle—blower former facebook employee frances haugen has been in the news for several weeks now over her leaked documents. she has had a series of media partnerships starting with the wall streetjournal. what did she do with them and who has she been working with since? yeah, so she says that she first met
the wall streetjournal reporter who she would work with to disclose the original documents, she says she has been working with him since december. so it was originally jack horwitz at the wall streetjournal. he came out with a series called the facebook files which essentially, you know, showed that in various ways facebook is aware it has been contributing to social harms and has done little to stop it. and ever since then it has just kind of been a whirlwind. haugen and her team decided it was time to get these documents out there to a broader audience, and she wanted to raise more attention around them. so her pr firm in the us created this sort of ad hoc media consortium. 17 us publications, more in europe. that were all given a certain amount of time to pour over these thousands of documents. and this past week was
when most of them published. we invited facebook on the programme but they were not able to make it on. a murdoch—owned paper and he has long been a critic of facebook. several publications workers the seem facebook this week and publishing stories. how did it all come together? there has been, you know, - kind of an almost unprecedented collaboration and working together of various media organisations. - i wasn't involved from the very start, but colleagues of mine i were and then i came in and i think that is true of other _ publications as well. we have had different reporters coming in because there's beenj so many different aspects i to the stories that have been pouring out of these documents. we here at the ft see ourselvesl as a global publication so we had reporters in the middle east -
and south asia looking at these documents to give some political- context as well and we obviously had people in the us and we had all of the other reporters - from other places as well. so kind of on the ground there has been joint calls and we have - all been trying to understand - what these documents are saying as a group and then trying to go in, figure out - what our own stories are _ and which bits we want to highlight. so a big, big global movement. but emily who was leading this, somebody had to be leading it surely? the ap actually took a lot of the sort of leadership from the journalists. and sort of corralling everyone into a group from slacks, and apparently we are a consortium now. a lot of stuff around the branding of the documents, the embargo time decided by the journalists, but also obviously there has been a lot
of coordination with her pr firm and working with her pr firm on, can we get that document, or her firm arranged a series of briefings with her. it has been really notably sprawling and quite well manicured effort to, you know, undertake this pretty huge project. so that's the consortium and how it worked. as you said there's a pr firm behind it. but what were the big headlines that came out this week? we did learn some new stuff, didn't we? oh, yes. we look at it as areas i of things that came out of one of the big things was what are major language problems that facebook has globally— and this is an interest of ours| is a global news organisation. languages spoken by huge swathes of the world — -
arabic, hindi, urdu, these are huge numbers of facebook users who don't have enough - in—country language | support moderators. so much of the misinformation, hate speech and, you know, - other types of harmful content - are just falling through the cracks. in most of the world outside of the us, and in fact - there was a number of one of the documents that said the company allocated 87%| of its budget for developing its misinformation detection i algorithms to the us in 2020. 13% to the entire rest of the world. for me, that was kind of one of the big takeaways, - and the fact that they don't really understand how their— own algorithms work. there were documents in there that showed that women were shown - less political content compared to men but they did _ not really know why. also they said that there was certainly a major - systemic biases based
on the race of different users - and that people who share frequently are shown more in the news feed rankings and certain races - are prioritised over others in terms of their speech being amplified. i they did not know what that bias looked like or how to fix it. - you mentioned hate speech and we were not able to get facebook onto the programme but they have released a statement in relation to the criticisms. with regards to hate speech, they said they have built teams with expertise on issues such as human rights. and that they do have industry—leading processes for reviewing and prioritising countries with the highest risk of off—line harm and violence. if we go back to the mechanics of how this all worked, emily, it has been a very slick operation in terms of how it came together. who is backing frances haugen? i did some reporting this week
of some of the money behind her. there is no indication about anything about this was inauthentic or inorganic. she was working at facebook, she has been clear that she spent a long time preparing to bring documents out of the company, but as soon as she went public she revealed her identity on a 60 minute episode that was one of the most widely watched episodes in the show�*s history. that's when a lot of people came out of the woodwork to help and support her. the whole time she has been working with an organisation called whistle—blower aid, they said that since going forward with her they have gotten attention from a lot of big donors. they are now able to pay for a lot of her expenses. and beyond that, the founder of ebay has come out and offered a lot of support for her.
he is a billionaire, he has spent a lot of recent years bankrolling anti—big tech efforts. he has given millions of dollars overall to advocacy groups and digital rights groups. so basically his philanthropic group is running her government and press relations in europe. he previously did give money to whistle—blower aid and has pledged that he will continue to support her in many different ways, including travel expenses and including amplifying her message through a lot of his big organisations. so he's only one of many. just to clarify, she has not said publicly that he is backing haugen. but they don't specifically comment on this case. emily, what have facebook said in response to the slew of stories?
they keep coming and coming. facebook has taken a very defensive posture in response to all of this. i've spoken to a lot of people this week that say companies in crisis have choices that they can make. they can either make structural change, they can apologise. facebook has chosen that will not be their approach, they say, we are proud of what we have done, we are a company that tries to do good. we have invested more in trust and safety than our rivals. and we are being mischaracterised in the press. mark zuckerberg earlier this week said all of this amounts to basically a coordinated smear campaign. and that it will dis—incentivise some kind of similar research in the future.
as this negative press continues, maybe they will take a different tact but for now they are not going to apologise when they are being attacked. three of my panel all come from papers that were part of this consortium, but surely facebook do have a point here. isn't this a case of the old media going after new media? facebook is still the new kid on the block and they're not even 20 years old yet? it's hard to call them - the new kid on the block when you look at the scale of, even if we don't call— that harm the scale of, that we see in terms i of who they touch globally. i'm not quite sure we evenl have a quarter of that reach even at the consortium i with 17 new organisations. there were efforts from facebook researchers to try and wrangle . with ways to solve these really-
extremely thorny issues like ethnic violence and civil. war, gender issues, religious inflammatory material. and in each context, i this is so complex and different and unique. the company is based - in silicon valley in the us. they don't have that sense - of context in every single country. so there were efforts to try| and understand this better. what is clear from the documents is that these efforts have - been stymied internally. even when researchers were saying, look, there are problems— that we are trying to show you, - that things were not done about it. i have spoken to another— whistle—blower who came out a few months ago and she had uncovered several instances of political - manipulation on the platform - in places like honduras for example. she thought it was really difficult to get anyone to take any actioni and it just sort of fizzled out - unless she did something about it. there is an internal lack of, -
or an internal apathy even though lthere have been good—faith efforts| from researchers in the company to understand what is going on better. facebook would say their technology is having a big impact in reducing how much hate speech people see on their platform. they said that they use their technology to proactively detect it and routed to reviewers and remove it when it violates their policies. lauren goode, senior writer at wired, your profile says you are a lover of plot twists, can it get any worse for facebook? i think we have yet to see the plot twists. i don't think it bodes well for facebook, but i don't know how impact much we will be seeing right away. as emily mentioned, facebookjust reported the third quarter earnings a few days ago, the company is shockingly still making money, and any concerns about selling revenue came from this side of targeted advertising. because there's been changes that apple made to its operative system
on phones where it's limiting some of the targeted advertising that people see on a platform like facebook. consumers can now opt out. facebook warned of that. facebook has some real concerns or should have real concerns about whether or not younger users are adding onto the services the way some of us elders have done. i think there's other concerns that facebook may have, i think when it comes to the facebook files or facebook papers one of the employees said in the document said they don't believe that history is going to look back kindly on facebook. i do believe that history is starting to happen now. history is happening now, but i think it is still going to be a little while before we see the long—term impact of the reaction to these papers. we willjust have to sit back and see how the plot unfolds, but whilst that is the facebook�*s problems in the real world,
they are also making big moves into an alternative world — the metaverse. this is a concept that it keeps cropping up, big tech keep telling us about the future — facebook have announced 10,000 newjobs working just on this. but, lauren, what is the metaverse? people listening at home will be going, meta what? what is the metaverse? i believe it depends on who you ask. if you think about the word universe meaning like a single universe, the metaverse is supposed to somehow transcend that. the most consistent description i've heard from different people is that's a kind of successor to the mobile internet. the way that 20 something years ago, we were experiencing the internet primarily through the web, now we all have mobile phones, smartphones in our hands, and the metaverse will be some next level or next layer of that. where there is this kind of pervasive connectivity in our lives.
which may sound thrilling to some people but may be alarming to others. where we feel a sense of presence with the people around us. right now, as we are doing this radio and video presentation, we are on zoom, looking at each other on 2d flat screens and in some kind of metaverse world perhaps we would feel a little bit more present with each other as we interact and move from space to space. nicola, this does sound alljust a bit dystopian, doesn't it? it is true that the metaverse did come from dystopian science fiction, i'm a massive science fiction geek as well as a social scientist. i'm interested in how technology and people interact but snow crash is the origin of the metaverse and i described it as the 3d internet. it's notjust the digital bit, i think there is the intersection with the real world that we need to think about as well. typically, people do think
of the metaverse as a snow crash, ready player one, the ultimate dystopian vision would be the matrix as well. this is the problem, it's all the science geeks pushing us toward this new future? it's trying to move from that 2d static, i guess, spectator sports that we have been doing a lot of at the moment because we have been staring at 2d screens for a very long time during the pandemic. moving it into a 3d space. the exciting bit is that it could be the new internet, it's enabled by technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality and mixed reality. those are three slightly different technologies as well. some of which involve wearing glasses. i think that's one from a more social science user perspective. i think that glasses bit can be one of the steps that they have got to get over around people adjusting to virtual reality. i tend to go queasy
on the top of the bus. if you put that headset on me, i do tend to vomit. that will get better and there's a big fashion brand recently that just launched a pair of glasses which are augmented reality. rather than being completely concealed in a headset, you can actually start to merge reality and the digital world as well. there's lots of applications that we have been looking at, things like health care using that kind of application. we can start to see some quite exciting examples of things that we can do with that technology. and then mixed reality is where it is more the star trek vision. the hollow deck type of thing where you bring them together and there's this word that describes the physical world and digital world to start to interact.
if i pick up a pencil, will the digital world respond? what of challenges creating this metaverse as well as connecting probably multiple metaverses together. and enabling us as users to navigate through those multiple worlds in a very consistent way. you have given us some enticing glimpses, but let's try and pin down exactly what the metaverse will be. lauren, some of our listeners may know, they may even remember the sims, that was a video game in which you had a little digital characters and you could decide what they wear, what they ate, what kind of house they lived in, whether they even had a shower. i remember playing that. is the metaverse similar to that? i think you're touching on something that is important. which is that the metaverse can be expressed through a virtual world such as simcity or the sims, and some people also say second life is something that would be considered part of the metaverse. but is doesn't necessarily have to be something
that is in that space. as nicola also said, it could be something that kind of exists partly in your physical world around you and partly in the digital world. i also think that what you're describing or asking are these silos, right? we hear technologists prognosticate right now about the metaverse and say it's going to be its vast expanse of virtual experiences where people will connect, there will be interoperability, it will be open. but what we are actually seeing is now a lot of these companies try to elbow their way into the metaverse and stake their claim in it. facebook of course is one, you mentioned that off the top. i wouldn't be surprised if we saw google make a more serious play in the metaverse. apple might not call it that because apple tries not to call things super nerdy terms but it's working on ar solutions. there's microsoft, pok mon go, fortnite, and what we are seeing are these companies that exist
in our lives, so present in our lives through their technology services. many of them are not interoperable. many of them have containers or walled gardens where we are supposed to live and do our work. and do our connecting with other people. and so i think the promise right now theoretically is that it's been very open and that people just kind of live in this next layer of the internet. but in reality these companies want to make money off of this. they want to build applications on top of this and they are going to do, i think, what they can to make you use their services over others. if i'm right, you have some doubts about this, right, the metaverse? i do have some concerns, i would say. primarily, i think there's a real barrier tojust people widely adopting it. so long as there is a proponent of it that relies on heads up displays was that the vr headset
or ar glasses, ijust think it's going to take a lot and there's going to have to be, going to have to be advancements in that technology for people to adopt it widely. go to be applications where people can join from their 2d screens and enter the metaverse, but what technologists are pressing right now is the totally virtual immersive experiences. it feels like vr and ar in their teenage phase. as much as we are figuring ourselves out and considering changing our names, the metaverse is a new name change for what technologists have been pushing already for decades at this point. my other concern is just about inclusivity in the metaverse. a lot of the conversations we have heard so far, some of the most prominent voices around the metaverse, this panel not included, happen to be people who identify as men whether science fiction writers or analysts,
or people like mark zuckerberg or the founder of second life. and i think it's when you have this sort of homogenous body of people who are creating this next layer of the internet you are setting yourself up for having an experience that does not necessarily apply to everyone or consider everyone. and i think right now the answer to that is, well, don't worry we are designing avatars that reflect what real people look like. and that's great but that does not necessarily consider the harms or potential harms or social dynamics that would exist for people who come from underrepresented or marginalised groups who deserve to have the same safe experience on the internet as the people who are creating it. madhumita, european tech correspondent from the financial times, what do you think of the metaverse? i'm in the office for the first time in a while and corralling - opinions from my desk. i was talking to my two editors about this. - we were saying, you know, - we throw this term out as if it's
this futuristic thing, but we are already. on the path to this. i know the metaverse is supposed to be three—dimensional- and augmented but what it is really is, as lauren said, it's— interconnected in a kind of world where we do all things online. i over the last year and a half, we . are doing all things online already. living together virtually. we, notjust for entertainment, but for work as well. _ and we are already at that stage where behaviourallyj we understand what it would mean. so i think the jump is a bit smaller for me than it would have - looked like two years ago. and really the next step is making it all interoperable. _ even if that's not in 3d, - can i take all of my social graph data from facebook and take it with me somewhere else? - rather than having all of these separate kind of units? - can ijust live one life online? i think that will be the first step of this metaverse and then -
we will kind of go on to the issues around glasses and _ headsets and things. i think we are closer than we think. thank you very much, we could talk about this all day, but that's all the time we have for now. thank you so much on my guests, the media show will be back at the same time next week. thanks for watching and goodbye. hello there. it's been a very stormy start to our sunday, widespread gales, very heavy rainfall, some localised flooding in places. the rain band has become more confined towards the northern half of scotland through the afternoon and it's brightened up to the south of it that much of england and wales, northern ireland, but it will stay very windy with gales and some heavy and blustery showers. here's the culprit, then, this area of low pressure, a deep low, spreading its way northwards, lots of isobars on the chart on its southern
flank in particular, which is why it's going to stay very windy with gales across southern and western england and across wales. plenty of showers as well, some of these merging together to produce longer spells of rain through this evening and overnight. the rain band across northern scotland pivots around to effect much of western scotland, perhaps back into northern ireland for a while, but there will be some clear spells developing, particularly across the south of the country, and here it will turn cooler, certainly cooler than what we have had the last few nights, temperatures 6—9 degrees for many of us. so, for monday, then, the 1st of november, we've still got our area of low pressure, but it's sitting to the north of the uk. still lots of isobars on the chart on its southern flank, so another windy day across the board, really. there will be some sunshine around but also further showers merging together to produce longer spells of rain through central and northern parts of the country. scattered showers across southern and western areas but also some good spells of sunshine here. it's going to be another windy day — these our wind gusts, up to 50 mph across western scotland and the hebrides. temperature wise, perhaps a degree or so down with highs of 13 or 14
degrees across southern areas, 9—11 across the north. now, around the middle part of the week, this area of low pressure pushes away northwards and opens the floodgates to a northerly arctic airflow for a while. so it's going to be turning colder around the middle part of the week, both by day and by night. you can see those blue colours invading right across the uk, but it will be fairly short lived. into the following weekend, it looks like milder and more unsettled weather returns off the atlantic. for tuesday, then, the winds will be lighter, it's a quieter day. there should be more sunshine around, particularly through inland areas and across the south. coastal showers continue across northern and western areas, and those temperatures much lower, 9—11 or 12 degrees. it looks like the showers continue through the week but become fewer and further between. a lot of dry weather and some sunshine, but it will stay cold, both by day and by night.
this is bbc news. live in glasgow, as the cop26 summit — the crucial climate change conference — gets under way. 620 g20 leaders in rome called for meaningful action to keep global warming to 1.5 celsius, they failed to, to net zero targets, but the host issued the cooperation of member states. we host issued the cooperation of member states.— host issued the cooperation of member states. we must focus on implementation _ member states. we must focus on implementation because _ member states. we must focus on implementation because rest - member states. we must focus on - implementation because rest assured, we will be judged on what we do, not what we say. the we will be judged on what we do, not what we say-— what we say. the british prime minister boris _ what we say. the british prime minister boris johnson - what we say. the british prime minister boris johnson is - what we say. the british prime minister boris johnson is due l what we say. the british prime | minister boris johnson is due to minister borisjohnson is due to address the g20 shortly, but prince charles has already spoken and added his voice to calls for more action