Rhondda MP Chris Bryant accuses press of ‘monetising hatred’ in their coverage of Meghan Markle
Chris Bryant has accused the press of “monetising hatred” in their coverage of Meghan Markle.
The Rhondda MP called for higher standards in the media, tighter ownership rules and transparency on recommender algorithms on social media at Hacked Off’s annual Leveson Lecture.
Hacked Off is a campaign formed in 2011 by Hugh Grant and others to call for a public inquiry into phone hacking, and other techniques, used by newspaper publishers in the UK.
In his lecture, Chris Bryant MP said that online algorithms that pushed people towards certain types of content allowed media publishers to “monetise” hatred, as they “pervert the truth and create an incentive for untruth”.
“The case of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle forcefully makes the point,” he said. “To the innocent bystander, it looks like the whole world hates Harry and Meghan. It is deliberate and coordinated and uses social media algorithms to amplify hatred.”
He called for “higher journalistic standards across news sites and traditional press to counteract the inherent tendency in algorithms towards untruth and the marketing of hatred”.
“Greater transparency about how recommender algorithms work and more online opportunities for consumers to opt for news and stories from outside their echo chamber” was also needed, he said.
“Tighter rules on anonymised fake online accounts run by bots. More research by Ofcom and others into the pernicious or deleterious effects of algorithms
“Tighter regulation of broadcasters deliberately disseminating conspiracy theories – and the online platforms that further amplify them.
“New media ownership rules that are fit for the digital era and enable regulators to decide whether a broadcaster or news service company is owned or run by a fit or proper person who is registered for tax purposes in the UK.”
Hugh Grant gave opening remarks where he praised reporting from independently regulated publications.
“They said an independently regulated press will have a chilling effect on journalism that is critical of the government,” he said. “[This] has turned out not to be true.
“When I look at publications that are members of Impress.. .it’s hard to call them chilled about this government. Conversely, if you look at members of IPSO like The Daily Mail it’s almost as if it’s written by Nadine Dorries”
He added: “Another thing that was levelled at independent regulation is that it would somehow destroy investigative journalism but again if you really look at the publications in Impress, again and again they scooped the mainstream press.
“There was an amazing moment in 2018 when [impress member] Bellingcat was able to reveal the name of one of the suspects in the Salisbury poisoning and on the same day the Mail Online, their great piece of investigative journalism was that Meghan Markle now liked to shut the car door herself.
“That’s the difference in cultures we have between [members of] the two regulators.”
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