Leeds Digital Festival Event on Fake News and Disinformation

Leeds Digital Festival event on fake news and disinformation

On May 1st we hosted a Leeds Digital Festival interactive event on fake news and disinformation in partnership with Dotkumo.

In this blog we share the ideas that we presented and some of the key points shared during the discussion.

Let’s begin!

Fake News and Disinformation

Our first event at the Leeds Digital Festival

As we said before, this event was part of the Leeds Digital Festival programme, which takes place once a year in Leeds. The events organised during the festival focus on technology, data and social media, with workshops and networking.

Our event was hosted by Mihaela Gruia, the founder of Research Retold, and Rich Ashby, CEO of Dotkumo, a digital consultancy specialised on social media, video editing and website optimisation.

Our event covered a lot of points about disinformation which are essential to know nowadays. Mihaela kicked off the event with a rapid-fire round. What word springs to mind when you think of fake news? Guests said:

  • politics
  • manipulation
  • Donald Trump
  • lies
  • truth
  • media
  • Andrew Wakefield
  • context
  • polarisation
  • identity
  • TV
  • Fox News
  • power
  • Twitter
  • eco-chambers
  • instrumental

After this brief warm-up, our speakers offered a definition of disinformation as explained in the DCMS government report


“The deliberate creation and sharing of false and/or manipulated information that is intended to deceive and mislead audiences, either for the purposes of causing harm, or for political, personal or financial gain”.

Once the audience felt more secure about the definition of fake news and the different forms it could take, it was time for a little game. Mihaela and Rich showed some news items and the audience had to distinguish whether they were fake or not. Some of the examples were difficult to guess and left some guests very surprised.


Fake News and Disinformation

Before the break, Mihaela and Rich encouraged guests to share their thoughts in an interactive discussion. This lively debate sparked some interesting ideas and points:

“There should be some kind of criticism with these issues, social pressure should be able to correct the behaviour of people who share fake news.”

“Young people afraid of not getting likes on their posts has a lot to do with this issue.”

“Fake news is very emotional. Religion is a fantastic example of people believing what they want to believe. Anyone that wants to believe something is evil just will.”

After the break where we enjoyed some drinks and snacks, Rich explained how fake news can have a wider impact on society. Moreover, he offered examples of fake news spreading to alarming proportions. For example, in terms of political conspiracies, he showed some famous cases as #PizzaGate or QAnon. 


Practical ways to tackle disinformation

Finally, Mihaela gave five practical ways for everyone to recognise disinformation on the internet:

Verification checklist

Facebook Ad Library

Reverse image search

Full Fact

Free 1h course


Fake News and Disinformation

After the event, the guests shared some of their thoughts about the events and affirmed that after learning all this information about fake news, they realised is a bigger issue than what they originally thought.

“How do we manage this? If I saw a photo on the Internet like this I wouldn’t question if it was real or not. How can we change our mindset to question these things all the time?”

“Even when I see certain outrageous posts on a trusted news source I feel tempted to read them and see if they’re real or not”.

“Fake news is so alluring… we love the idea that someone will give us the ultimate truth about what a government is hiding”.


Fake News and Disinformation

The hashtag of our event was #FakeNewsLeeds. Check that out to see our guests thoughts and impressions.

Did you enjoy reading about our Leeds Digital Festival Event on fake news and disinformation? We’re meeting on June 20 to continue the conversation, so get in touch if you want to come along!


Stay in touch wit us on twitter @researchretold and @dotkumo.

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