|Xi Jinping being whispered to|
A rumour began spreading on social media, concerning the UK's future migration policy. It said that the Government and Migration Advisory Committee have recommended that the bar for 'high-skilled' immigrant workers will be raised to £50,000 per annum post-Brexit. This is false - the actual proposal is that the bar should be £30,000 per annum - but lots of pro-immigration people and organisations (from the Welsh government to the Wirral Chambers of Commerce, from the Guardian to Glasgow University, from The New Statesman to UCL) took to Twitter and print to wax furious about it.
Sunder Katwala of British Future set out get to the bottom of why so many people were tweeting this piece of fake news ("Chinese whispers") and, with help from others, seems to have finally pinned it down as beginning with a piece of muddled BBC reporting.
The culprit? Norman Smith on the Today programme (at 2:01:28).
Professor Alan Manning of the MAC said it's "completely without foundation, the £50,000", that's it not from the MAC or the Government, and it's a mistake by the BBC on Today, tweeted by a FT journalist. It was "widely believed", he said, "because the BBC & FT are trusted, then amplified".
So the BBC (Today programme), by being thought safe to trust and repeat without checking by so many, appears to have caused a whole heap of confusion here.
The moral of the story? Probably: Don't trust and repeat BBC claims without checking!
I am highly aware that its very difficult to "myth-bust" untrue things that people want to believe.
However, I think its reasonable to ask broadsheet, broadcast media and professionals concerned about "post-truth" problems to try to avoid our version of it too.