Read this: Fake news? Meet the fake journalists
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BBC sounds music Radio podcasts from BBC Radio 4 you've heard of fake news but what about fake journalists is the most moncur story I've read this week.
How a network of completely fictitious journalist doesn't a real news outlets into publishing a pin that were all sympathetic to the foreign policy the foreign policy objectives of the United Arab Emirates in the UAE really happy speaking in a moment to the academic who first spotted the network and who might be behind it.
Let me introduce you to my other guests because we are also going to be looking at how the British TV business is getting back to work Danielle Lux is a giant of the industry should be the commission at the B&B how many many hits include Peep Show the Phoenix Nights and the kumars at number 42 now.
She's managing director of the production companies CPR
And make shows for TV and radio like married at first sight and All Star Mr and Mrs Danielle good afternoon.
Is it the picture was it just Peep Show I thought that was when I was a commissioner, but yes you got it right now.
What's going on? We are very busy at the moment and very fortunate to be so busy but last night.
I was in Studio with the something about movies which is our movie show with Jennifer Saunders Michael Sheen and Alan Carr Sky one which is coming back in a week or so in studio wishing married at first sight we're doing a Harry Hill show world for BBC One and a brand new children's entertainment show for ITV all within the next 4 weeks.
Do that in the current circumstances surely Daniel great to have you with us and speak to you again very soon David Mortimer is the managing director of STV Productions at STV famously the makers of course of Taggart remember that last year there were behind the big BBC one hits the victim and Elizabeth is missing David loads and loads of other factual shows to your name and I've just realised that I've been one of them celebrity antique road trip with exciting.
What do you do at the moment? They will be working on 3 lockdown 74 profit which celebrities to approach.
You gone back into a new production countdown catchphrase.
Television in these times but we're getting there and actually show that you're on antiques road trip back on the road this week as well.
So it feels like we're going to win the battle and I know it is a producer and director is worked on Panorama I would like to Stacey Dooley and it's latest documentary is out this week's on BBC3 what's it about speech about how trump used Twitter to take over American politics and as well talk to you anon.
Let's return to the extraordinary story I mentioned at the top of the show which is this network of fake journalist and how they do over the last year real news outlet into publisher 100 comet pieces is that basically all propaganda for the UAE Twitter on Monday suspended the accounts of 16 of those they look really enough profile photo.
But it was all made up the investigation was done by the US news site the Daily Beast and Mark Owen Jones is an assistant professor at the Hamad bin, Khalifa university in Qatar and Mark first person to spot the network and contributed to the investigation good afternoon.
Can you please talk us through how you noticed that these journalist weren't that real people at all.
I was alerted to this whole this whole thing please.
Do you simply received a message from a friend who been approached by someone who later turned out to be affected analyst but at the time.
I approached him and he said listen to a common.
Who's the Yemeni activist has been made a member of the Facebook Facebook new oversight board and we can't let this happen, because she's Brotherhood sympathiser.
So can you help me sort of you know promote information that will help our case is a very strange message and he sent me this message because
Suspicious or unusual and I received it.
I looked and I said listen mate play along with this guy see what he wants to my friend asked his guide to zoom zoom meeting with him since its age and the guy refused to have a zoom meeting which was the first red flag of course and it said that it's for security reasons and that's what I expected to happen and it seems suspect and I said well.
Just keep speaking to him and then soon and this was Rafael Nadal who is the pseudonym of one of these fake journalist he sent my friend an article which was in the age of x which is quite widely published widely disseminated news outlet.
I think based in Hong Kong and this article was specifically about Facebook's new board and it's singled out again to a common as being sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood and it was basically emphasizing how this was very dangerous for freedom of speech it was a very specific way of.
Interpreting the appointment and one that I'd seen before because I had literally been studying a disinformation campaign about 1 months ago that was with mostly troll accounts on basically criticising to a comment so I thought this was very unusual timing and it was someone called linh Nguyen Vietnamese name a common Vietnamese name and she had a generic generic biography was sort of a list of Asian markets.
It didn't really know where she studied or wish it worked which is usually red flag that was a photo of her, but all of those things together were very suspicious and it also cited a report in the article by cornerstone.
Which is a consultancy that was founded by randomer sabre which is a company I think based in Mayfair in London who have done work for the United Arab Emirates to all this basically was the big red.
And it was then that I started to get suspicious and in some of these days.
Just be really clear out the detail mean that sounds like a very generic biography, but it's some cases EastEnders her profile photos that are actually generated by artificial intelligence.
Yes, so I mean this is why we entering a new phase than in a dangerous new phase I think of this kind of behaviour because what we've seen with this network.
I think half of the network was set up before with easily before you can easily obtain artificially generated images.
So what they did they did the usual thing which is the steal someone's profile picture and then they flip the image the simple process in order to make it harder to detect to a reverse image search but now you can literally go to the website this person does not exist.com and every 2 minutes.
It will generate a brand new human face that looks incredibly convincing especially shrunk down to it with a profile picture.
You can keep clicking until you find a convincing face because some of them are quite disturbing the most a very good and then they created a bunch of these and
you can't trace these images back to a source because they are all unique so this was an incredibly disturbing aspect of the investigation and you just just on the other reputable name the other publications that got a time to mention two of us bass outlets including Examiner real clear markets American thinker the national interest promoted by Donald Trump as an alternative to Fox News established organisation think I should have created a very rare course typology of responses the most start with the most professional which is you know you've been duped they'll printer retraction and say we
Whoever wrote this might not exist will leave the headline up, but will get the article and then spiked-online which as you know is a British publication they went for a different approach.
They make a note that they understood that the author was probably fictitious but in the name of transparency.
They would keep the article up ok, you can't swear on here.
I know someone just told me that the spring is the BBC specialist reporter covering this information and social media within studio one thing that mean it's unprecedented you had this before is a phenomenal story and I don't think I've seen a network of this type in this extent before doing something like this.
I didn't marks like Mark said I really dangerous evolution in the kinds of misinformation with c.
Particularly with regard to the foreign interference and also fake profiles or inauthentic behaviour.
I think that people have got a bit more savvy to Bob 7079 sharing something but actually these kinds of his friends campaigns can be I mean this is perhaps incorrect but and in for an influencer campaign that seeks to change opinions or have an influence on people overseas, and I'll probably discuss his colleagues that people were the Deep fakes and fake videos was going to be the next evolution of fake news, where does this journalist fit into the evolving battle against this information specifically shows and evolution in a bottle and authentic accounts and how they can be incredibly believable and also incredibly difficult to investigate because if they using generated images that you can't find by a reverse image searches.
It's difficult to firstly call them in authentic and secondly to find them or what?
Part of I didn't also if it's into you listen to that the information landscape where it's incredibly complex and we no longer just talking about foreign interference in the 2016 election with Russia information that comes in all shapes and sizes from different states from ordinary people all over the shop at convenient WhatsApp group.
It was a good be as we saw here in German news websites where people pretending to be jealous.
Come a long way from Pope BACS transfer news fake news briefing Marion is it fair to assume that significant resources must have gone into this kind of thing it's very difficult to create profiles.
That was a right content profiles to generate images to name them to make them convincing enough to be published by publications and I think that to make a point about how we can spot this kind of thing at red flags that can make a suspicious about accounts and obviously publication should also exercise that seems you caution when contributors get in touch with them.
Another important thing is at the moment.
There's a real tenancy to cry but whenever we see something that looks a bit dodgy A bit fake.
It's crucial to understand that bots inverted commas can be incredibly complex they can be operations, but there are reports that often ordinary people just copy and pasting stuff and so we need to exercise due caution when we interrogate these kinds of stories and it's allies is basically a cold war and we seen all sorts of dirty tricks cyber attacks login.
Can you work for a guitar University I've got two for Due process are going to ask whether you are now part of that cold war you tipped off about this network in any indirect Way by the guitarist? No not at all.
It was just a friend actually who lives and works in the UAE who was who was the one who was the manager sent it to me because I Do I Do it in this information studies in Arabic language from the Levant North Africa so there's not many people doing Arabic language this information.
Thank you very much.
I appreciate it has Mark Owen Jones of the had been Khalifa University and Marianna spring for the BBC thank you both so much for a social media personas to arguably the most famous real social media persona and the man has done more than anyone else properly to popularize the term fake news trump in tweets is a new BBC Three documentary that tells how a technophobe became a master at digital promotion and it features a guy called Peter costanzo.
He was the Martin guy who first introduced Donald Trump to Twitter and used to write his moment that occurred where Donald Trump himself tweeted mechanic described it when I understand as that moment in Jurassic Park the team they realise that the velociraptors good open doors and get out.
He feels that he knows himself better than anybody.
Anubis to represent him then himself well who could forget that moment in Jurassic Park I know is the director and executive producer of trump in tweets, we heard at the top and tell us more about this chat Peter costanzo basically Peter was a publicist who was hired by the trump organisation to publicize his book and cheese suggested to trump that they should use Twitter please Twitter was just taking off at the time and he was given 7 minutes of trumps time to try and persuade trump to take it.
I'm on which is quite interesting in itself 7 minutes not 15 and trump was instantly interested when he realised that he could accept his listeners and his fans directly and the story just went from there to to where we are today or 7 minutes that changed history and watching you.
Comes across as a marketing genius he built his Brand and then he was very very discipline in how he stuck to it.
Never change it.
What would you describe trump social media is Twitter strategy and how do they use Twitter what do you use it for first thing that was surprising was that I have come into this sort of thinking of trump is a buffoon because everybody mocks is his usage of Twitter but actually when you look at it.
He is actually taken at realdonaldtrump and Tuesday is the mouthpiece of the presidency so that gives you a sense of how how much is done with his Twitter feed and I would say that so at realdonaldtrump is sort of a marker of how he uses it is an extension of himself in a way.
I think he's always had an interesting relationship.
Medium I think trump was initially adored by the Us press and over time he was going to be seen as a bit chintzy.
He began to be seen there have been a date with certain financial improprieties and he began to get fed up with the press and Twitter offered him a way out, but not only that he was smart we realised to see the potential of Twitter as a way of broadcasting so if you look at this speed now, it's 82 followers and he understands it as it's as a newspaper as it is a way of challenging the orthodoxy of the media which is done the next day when we were we just gone off first.
and then I'm at we had to go into lockdown so all of the graphics had to be done and the last bit changes with from from Fiona Campbell had to be done so basically that involved taking taking the film out of the Edit facility into our editors house and then a graphic design had to basically designed the graphics while at the same time doing childcare and sending it to us through network speeds are basically I think I found an outside London really slow so slow painstaking process and aside from that everybody had to zoom Disney became really important, but it was
TV Productions David you resume filming in Australia this week with catchphrase, I should say categories are not count and it's one of my favourite quotes from child.
Have you got about it was talking about? How do you catch phrase in a time of social distancing even under normal circumstances, that is 250 peopleplus you working with across 11 days in studio.
You gotta have the right people in the right place at the right time.
There's all sorts of intangibles and then when you later on to that the challenges of working in this extraordinary time and making a production coded safe.
It is it's been really I'm having a shout out to go to the production management team the reality of our business is a lot of the time writers actors presenters producers reported it snow in the line lies actually the people who deserve.
Credit for the effort to the last few weeks is the production management team bookkeeping make sure that the studio can operate safely basic things like temperature checks in place of forms design Studios used normally contestants and stand 70cm because of social distancing for a while.
It is now going to meet up but it doesn't sound like a big difference difference is used throughout the Boston Channel 5 on the show at the height of the lockdown.
You say how he wasn't sure what people would want to watch in 6-months time, but he knew they wouldn't want to watch things that look like they be filled in a lot down and I suppose for David with the show that catchphrase it's it's yeah.
It's easier to social distance the people you see on screen, but there is still use be challenges for some of your shows Danielle and panel show like League of Their Own on Sky it's going to be much harder as it will the difference for us.
Is the audience so having Big Show's with big stars who form out great with jokes and set pieces for an audience that's a difficult thing lots of shows in the industry of wrestling with Solutions the great thing for our panel shows is the police themselves all know each other very well.
We're into several series of ligand and there's something about movies so that's kind of intimacy and fun to be had by just the panelists making jokes and kind of function with each other and then of course the challenge really is How do you get something that doesn't feel like a dreadful the laughter track from the 70s on to the and make it the high quality that the audience are expecting.
The show covid-19 into the studio and the creatives have been amazing with coming up with solutions to all of those problems that are thrown up by the unusual circumstances.
Sorry if it sounds like I keep in touch and see if there's a little delay lines and forgive me tell me Daniel who take the risk with film crew members to get ill with coronavirus in the whole project had to be home.
Is it CPL Productions you take the financial hit a very interesting question and it varies from broadcast to broadcast a really you know for Sky have been absolutely brilliant and collaborating with us in partnership, but I think the issue of a second lockdown or somebody getting along production and reproduction is a massive one because we can't now get insurance to cover production so in the worst case scenario with certain broadcasters.
We would be shouldering there.
Financial responsibility and that independent is a massive project running a either ones where the broadcaster is prepared to show the financial risk over the production companies itself big enough to take the risk which means some smaller companies of which there are many and I losing out on commissions absolutely right there.
It's it's it's a challenge, but it's possible to get his entertainment studio studio a pretty controllable environment so it's almost the perfect environment to try and do something difficult times and it shows going to cost a few £100,000 an hour which in itself sounds like a lot of money, but compared to what drama is cost.
I mean when the drama game as well and yes a standard UK Drama that were there on BBC One at 9 on ITV will cost somewhere in the region of 1.2 to 2 million an hour and so.
Insurance risk around that.
It's huge when you consider that all it would take he is one cast member or potentially a one member the crew to come down with the virus to put the whole Enterprise risk and one of the challenges of dealing with industry and we're hoping that the government going to help us find a solution is the toilets and purposes some TV Productions dramas, and I just not sure at the moment and so they're not insurable most of them will get made so so that's that's that's the key solution that we we know that you need to find without that insurance in place, then it's going to be impossible for collections and particular to get back up and running properly.
It's fascinating and alarming Danielle which is at the people who pay your bills the broadcasters you have the budget to commission programs from Independent production companies a lot of them out in massive financial peril.
How are you trying to protect your company during the
It is an important.
It's tougher for broadcasters to has a drama or scripted comedy because of the cause that happened during lockdown takes longer to get up and running the risks are higher than what happens if format shows comedy entertainment shows or uplifting factual formats become the shows that quite quickly can replace those great big projects in in the schedule, so really we are doing our very best to ensure that we got as much development ready to go as possible to get whatever money is available and is David said we are cheaper than a drama.
Let me ring you back in on this because one thing.
Outside of Alameda don't always understand about how the media works is the TV in particular is hugely dependent on freelancers and you're one of them.
Tell us about what your experience has been out during lockdown, what it was it to be a freelancer knocked down at the moment.
I think they are Productions that have been going ahead.
I mean wonder who has managed to do a couple of films one of which was filmed in China mainland and transmitted in States during the production company that made your trouble tweet documentaries founded by David Abraham full using new ways of deploying technology like personal so we can stay away from people so there are things happening and have been involved in developing some of that but overall it's it's quiet and I'm certain time for people who are freelancers because you can't we have been able to get some support.
The government's they have been people like myself who haven't been able to claim anything for various reasons, but I think the big thing is just the uncertainty because I mean previous pointed out that things can shut down very quickly so it's going to be interesting to see how we move forward from here David both individually David first.
You guys are relying on the big broadcasters the BBC's finances of taking a huge hit with the beauty of course.
There's the Enormous privilege of the licence fee income from your perspective has been run the big independent production companies just how is this hit to the other major public service broadcasters ITV channel 4 and Channel 5 Dire Straits or what challenges out there I mean the BBC's position because you know it's a very good covered in a better position in terms of its relationship with the Great British Public but it was 400 months ago, but faces the huge financial uncertainty of the
No licence fee support still not being resolved one way or the other and then the commercial broadcasters in the clearly have been immediately affected by the massive downturn in the economy, as it produces our ability to CrossFit is entirely related to the broadcasters ability absolutely Daniel just for you, but you have bad is a picture of a commercial broadcasters right now.
It's finished mind about celebrated the foothold at some of the Dreamers and had and giving us giving rise to a kind of broadcast ecology.
That's faster than we thought it would in terms of the threats to those traditional broadcasters.
Same time next week.
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