Sunday 26 November 2017

Into dark places


The strange interface between the traditional media, social media and 'fake news' came together this week in a startling story. 

An American vlogger who goes by the name Reallygraceful is absolutely furious at the BBC for dismissing her claims of a paedophile ring operating on YouTube.

She made those claims back in February, and BBC Trending wrote a piece about her at the time

The BBC Trending piece, by Mike Wendling, was headlined Despite rumours, there's no evidence of a paedophile ring on YouTube.

It reported claims that Reallygraceful's claims were "overblown" and that the explicit comments posted on perfectly innocent YouTube videos of children were made by "some shady individuals" rather than by "a paedophile ring". The sub-headline (without any inverted commas) was: Hysteria. The BBC piece quoted YouTube saying that it took quick action to remove such comments. 

Now, Reallygraceful (or Grace, to give her real name) probably caught BBC Trending's eye because she apparently previously promoted the Pizzagate conspiracy theory - "an invented allegation that a paedophile ring which included Democratic Party officials was centred on a Washington pizza restaurant". Mike described Pizzagate as "a politically motivated plot by Donald Trump supporters". BBC Trending is absolutely fascinated by the alt-right (and other misbehaving Trump supporters). 

Grace, as you can probably imagine, is feeling furiously vindicated by this week's widely-reported news that "hundreds of paedophiles" have been flocking onto YouTube to share lewd comments, swap links to child abuse and to groom children. YouTube's "rhetoric about child safeguarding" (cited uncritically in that BBC Trending piece) has been found severely wanting. Top brands have been pulling their YouTube ads.

In her initial anger she implied (at the time) that the BBC's motivation in the BBC Trending piece stems from the same BBC culture which 'facilitated' and 'covered' for Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris, Stuart Hall et al. I think that goes way too far, and that actually it's 'merely' a case of BBC Trending sniffing out 'dodgy' alt-right types to dangle in front of the public.

Still, it would be good if BBC Trending revisited this story.

Don't they owe Grace an apology? Wasn't the story much more complicated and serious than they originally thought? Didn't they miss a big scoop?

The complicating factor for critics of the BBC though is that the BBC itself was a key player (along with the Times) in uncovering this week's YouTube story - reporting that finally vindicated Grace. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.