Whilst technology makes a positive impact on the lives of individuals and organisations today, the rise in false information and fake news requires an honest conversation about the negative impact technology can have on the UK.
Our Tech in a Transforming Britain report found that, whilst over half (53 percent) of the UK public feel positive about the societal changes technology is driving in the UK, a similar number (52 percent) say they are concerned about how technology enables access to dangerous information. A further two-fifths were anxious about the impact of media with technology enabling people to access fake news and incorrect information.
However, with the majority (57 percent) of the public believing technology can encourage new ways of learning, the government’s recent move to tackle fake news by encouraging schools to help young people identify real news and filter out false information is a great example of how technology can be used as a force for good.
To ensure the UK remains at the heart of digital transformation, companies need to take more responsibility for educating people. And this needs to start with those most vulnerable to dangerous and fake content online: children.
Media companies are already beginning to wake up to their role in how to stop the proliferation – or at least the influence – of fake news. For example, in March the BBC released its annual plan to respond to the changing needs of audiences, and that included a plan to provide mentoring from expert BBC journalists to help young people identify real news and filter out false information.
But the role does fall to tech companies too, particularly those closely engaged with the education sector. Through our Ambassador Programme our mission is to work with trusted partners to help students in Scotland achieve more and unleash their full potential through our tech innovation hubs. While their purpose has always been to enhance digital skills, we recognise our obligation to encourage students to develop a positive and responsible relationship with technology.
The fact is that to engineer change we need to have honest conversations about the negative impact of technology, and we believe it’s on private tech companies who work with education institutions to create awareness of how to avoid these pitfalls.
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