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Crime and security expert calls for Senedd inquiry into ‘disinformation’

12 Aug 2021 4 minutes Read
Anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists protest. By Tim Dennell (CC 2.0)

A crime and security expert has called for a Senedd inquiry into “disinformation”.

Professor Martin Innes, a director of Cardiff University’s Crime and Security Research Institute, said the targeting of Mark Drakeford’s home by anti-lockdown and anti-vax protesters showed the Welsh Parliament needs to take action.

He hit out at “conspiracy theories” and the “toxic cocktail of digital disinformation and political polarisation”, which he says is leading to “increasingly worrying offline behaviour”.

A crowd of around 150 gathered outside the First Minister’s private residence in a street near to the city centre with some chants calling for him to be arrested.

Some reports suggest that those taking part included some wearing yellow star badges, similar to those Jewish people were forced to wear in Nazi Germany.

In an article for the welsh agenda, which is published by the think tank, the Institute of Welsh Affairs, Professor Innes wrote: “The protest, which had started earlier in the day in the centre of the City, involved a coalition of anti-lockdown, anti-vaccine, and anti-mask groups, alongside some more established radical political entities.

“It came together as part of a coordinated series of events spanning a number of global cities, including London, Paris and Sydney amongst others.

“Although fortunately no violence occurred in Cardiff, it is the latest signal of how a toxic cocktail of digital disinformation and political polarisation online is translating into increasingly worrying offline behaviour.

“The events in Cardiff demonstrate how the coronavirus pandemic and our collective responses to it have been especially susceptible to being influenced by a variety of conspiracy theories and disinformation.

“These have variously claimed, amongst other things, that vaccines cause infertility, and are part of a ‘deep state’ plot to monitor and track citizens’ movements.”

‘Smear campaigns’ 

He added: “Furthermore, there have been a number of recent stories, especially centred on female politicians and public figures in Wales, documenting how they are being subject to smear campaigns, hate and disinformation.

“For example, ITV Wales reported on the ‘threats of physical harm, online abuse and death threats’ against former education minister Kirsty Williams, which eventually led her to step down from office.

“Even if these issues are not yet as pressing in Wales as they are in other countries, taking preventative action is probably wise.

“After all, we know there are a number of conditions that make liberal democratic political systems and social orders especially vulnerable to influence operations and disinformation campaigns, both from within and without.

“In light of the recent targeting of Welsh politicians, and the extent to which disinformation has impacted the effectiveness of the public health response to Coronavirus in Wales, there are good grounds for launching a Senedd inquiry into these issues.

“These ‘local’ reasons are reinforced by the fact that some of the wider geopolitical trends are also being experienced in Wales.

“For example, the economic pressures on local news media sources, as audience consumption patterns shift increasingly towards social media bases sources has clearly impacted upon the Welsh media landscape.

“Consequently, a Senedd inquiry into disinformation or misinformation, such as the one the IWA called for in its report Media Priorities for the Next Senedd [pdf], should take as its starting point three main questions.

“First, ‘What evidence is there of misinformation and disinformation being used to try and manipulate political processes recently in Wales?’

“Second, ‘How can a range of countermeasures be integrated into Welsh media and politics, to help protect people from malign information and influence campaigns?’

“Finally, ‘What can be done to prevent Welsh media becoming increasingly exposed to sources of disinformation?’”

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Llewelyn
Llewelyn
3 months ago

How can we sure that the information from any government is not disinformation in itself? We can’t, that’s the problem. We have a word for it…Properganda.

Gareth
Gareth
3 months ago
Reply to  Llewelyn

Do you think the covid messages from Mark Drakeford and his Gov are propaganda, because I dont, and I also believe my wife who is a nurse prac at a hospital that covid is real, there is no propaganda there for me or any of my family. Devolution of the media and press would be a start for our Gov to do something.

Tony
Tony
3 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

Where did I mention covid? I totally believe covid is real, but its been politicised. What I said can apply to anything, anywhere. Critical thinking is the skill, not absolute reliance. If the press is free, how can you devolve it, unless you admit the press can be properganda. Most press is a private enterprise so you want nationalisation? How can you devolve a private company? Do you want to devolve tesco to? The NHS isn’t really my favourite institution at the moment as I’ve been waiting a long time for a consultation. So when anybody uses the NHS as… Read more »

CJPh
CJPh
3 months ago
Reply to  Tony

Once you devolve media, regulatory boards, a national broadcaster, all governmental input pertaining to media gets moved to Wales from Westminster. This does not preclude the sale of private, non-welsh papers or the ability for the public to access non-welsh TV channels – all it does is centre the market within Wales. Standards are set by our government, not Westminster. That’s all.

Plus, are you Tony or Llewelyn? Why the quick name change? Not running a fun lil sock puppet relay are we 😉

Last edited 3 months ago by CJPh
Llewelyn
Llewelyn
3 months ago
Reply to  CJPh

My name is hyphenated, thats the reason.

CJPh
CJPh
3 months ago
Reply to  Llewelyn

Hyphenated into two desperate usernames? That’s one long hyphen

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
3 months ago
Reply to  Tony

What on earth are tic toc nurses and why don’t you go private if the NHS is not your preferred institution? It’s propAganda and decentralisation, delegation and devolution are pretty difficult to separate and identify.

Be more kind or I shall ask what is going on with Tony and Llewelyn, are they not talking to each other?.

Llewelyn
Llewelyn
3 months ago
Reply to  Kerry Davies

Does that mean I can get a refund on my national insurance? Be more kind? So you wouldn’t be cross if you had waited yourself?

I never said it wasn’t my prefered institution, where I live its my only choice. Plus on my income I can only afford the NHS, but for you to give that suggestion I suppose it’s pennies to you.

So to are you being kind suggesting people who are bored of waiting go private?!(and broke?)

Doesn’t sound very kind to me.

Gareth
Gareth
3 months ago
Reply to  Llewelyn

Is that you Tony, back to Llewelyn now ,

hdavies15
hdavies15
3 months ago
Reply to  Kerry Davies

Split personality ? Bipolar ? Jekyll and Hyde, Jekyll or Hyde ? Dazed and confused ?

Gareth
Gareth
3 months ago
Reply to  Tony

How many names are you posting under ? Llewelyn, Tony, mis information seems to be your game here. And the article above is about Covid disinformation, and you post about propaganda. Come clean, how many names are you using?

j humphrys
j humphrys
3 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

He talked political polarisation as well, so “Llewelyn” – (with one L again) has a point. Covid itself, though, is very hungry and we are on the menu!

Cynan
Cynan
3 months ago
Reply to  j humphrys

I have noticed he seems very keen to sow dissent between North and South. I guess “Tony” didn’t sound Welsh enough.

CapM
CapM
3 months ago
Reply to  Cynan

A while ago I did suggest to “Llewelyn” that as his cover for North South agitation had been blown that he reinvent himself and start again under another name. I didn’t expect him to run “Tony” in tandem though.
Very funny that he then immediately outed “Tony” in his reply to “Llewelyn”.

CJPh
CJPh
3 months ago

Careful. The best way to counter bad/false/malicious speech is better speech… in most cases. When we can demonstrate that some form of speech directly lead to a serious crime, as well as punishing the resultant crime (more harshly than the speech which preceded it) we should look at punishing those who promulgated the causal speech. But, as was the case in the freer societies, the burden of proof needs to be on the state and set very, very high. It is only a matter of time, given the increasingly vague manner that speech codes and laws are being implemented, that… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by CJPh
j humphrys
j humphrys
3 months ago
Reply to  CJPh

Agree, couple of thoughts came immediately.

How about ” Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. And here is an artists impression.”

Julian Assange is an agent trying to destabilise the West. Keeping him in Belmarsh without charge is protecting the West from destabilization.

And so on…………………….

Last edited 3 months ago by j humphrys
Alan Reilly 1
Alan Reilly 1
3 months ago

The guy with his thumb up in the photo looks like a hoodlum. I think I’ll be sticking with believing the doctors and scientists over him if it’s all the same to you. Thanks now.

Ceri Evans
Ceri Evans
3 months ago
Reply to  Alan Reilly 1

He obviously has a very understanding employer, giving him the time off to go and stand in front of a sheet.

Alan Reilly 1
Alan Reilly 1
3 months ago
Reply to  Ceri Evans

Yeah, it’s called the DSS.

Last edited 3 months ago by Alan Reilly 1
hdavies15
hdavies15
3 months ago

Disinformation and deceit are most commonly found among those governments characterised by a prevalence of bunglers and other deviants among their Ministers. Covid has brought these out in droves ranging from the ultra deniers like the unpronouncable from Brazil and of course Trump in USA. At the other end of the dodgy spectrum we find likes of Boris’ government who have flip flopped with alarming regularity aiming for complete supression one day followed by promises of rapid recovery and “world class” performance in any aspect of related medical services. All these have use down right lying and fabricated “evidence” as… Read more »

Notta Bott
Notta Bott
3 months ago

Finland teaches in school about fake news and disinformation. Maybe Wales should look at this.

Cynan
Cynan
3 months ago

I suspect the shadowy hand of a puppetmaster with a broader agenda behind these anti-vaccine conspiracists. The sign is both correctly spelled and punctuated. Those “protestors” clearly didn’t make it themsleves

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