Five Minutes With… Alex Brocklehurst

Resource type: Podcast

In this episode of Five Minutes With… we speak to Alex Brocklehurst from Full Fact, the UK’s independent fact checking authority. Alex talks about issues of disinformation and how we can empower young people to help combat its spread.

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Episode transcript

00:00 – 00:37

Christina Ogwang (CO)

What are the most important conversations we need to be having today, and how can young people contribute to these conversations? These are the questions we ask our guests to answer in Five Minutes With… At our recent Dis/Mis-information and Young People workshop. We sat down with Alex Brocklehurst from Full Fact, the UK’s independent fact checking organisation. Alex speaks about mis- and dis-information, its potential impacts in an election year, and techniques that young people can use to spot misinformation.

00:37 – 01:01

Alex Brocklehurst (AB)

So what do I think are the important conversations that we should be having? I think we should be talking about mis- and dis-information. We obviously live in a world where it’s increasingly easy to create new types of mis- and dis-information and to spread those very quickly using social media. And we’ve obviously got an increase in the number of tools that people can use to manipulate information, including AI, but other things as well.

01:01 – 01:22


So there’s a problem there that’s changing in nature and possibly growing in scale. And I think whether you’re a specialist fact checker like myself and my colleagues at Full Fact or whether you work in some other arena, I think this is a really important conversation to be having right now, especially in the political sphere. We’ve got elections probably later this year in the UK.

01:22 – 01:51


There’s a lot of other elections around the world. In the past year or so we’ve seen examples where election campaigns have been sort of not necessarily impacted, hopefully, but we’ve seen examples where fake information has been promulgated very deliberately, probably to discredit a particular political opponent and so on. We’ve seen fake images and videos. So, you know, we can expect or we shouldn’t be complacent that we won’t see that in the UK or indeed any other elections that are coming up.

01:52 – 02:16


So I think it’s really important that people are aware that that’s coming. I think it’s important also not to kind of overstate the risks of this. We are hopeful, I suppose, that if we have good levels of media literacy, if the press knows what to look for, if we’ve got engaged citizens with a few tools at their disposal, that collectively we can identify misinformation before it spreads too widely or causes too much harm.

02:16 –  02:52

Munny Purba (MP)

And so how do you feel we can engage young people in that conversation?


That’s a really difficult question, but I think we do need to engage with young, young people in that conversation. You know, thinking about political sphere, it’s often assumed that young people are disengaged from politics or they’re less likely to vote than older people. It’s really important that we encourage political and civic participation and may that one of the reasons why young people are less likely to vote is that they are exposed to a lot of disinformation and they don’t really know what to trust.

02:52 – 03:15


So I think encouraging young people to think critically about the information that they are seeing and that they are exposed to and also thinking critically about the information they are sharing amongst themselves and their communities. I think if we can engage them in that conversation, I think that’ll be really powerful. And I think, you know, again, being optimistic, I don’t think young people are so cynical that they won’t want to have that conversation.

03:15 – 03:34


I think, you know, there’s a lot of things that young people feel strongly about with a lot of political causes that they will want to pursue. They won’t all think the same way about political issues. Of course, that’s understood. But you know, what we talk about at Full Fact and what a lot of other people talk about is making sure that people have good skills to critically appraise the information they’re seeing.

03:34 – 04:00


And, you know, Full Fact have written some guides that I think are quite useful, particularly around sort of online information and how to spot doctored images, for example, or misleading videos. You know, so there are guides out there, and I think young people can use some of those techniques. They’re not necessarily very difficult. People with sort of access to I.T. and using social media will probably find it quite easy to do things like reverse image searching, for example.

04:00 – 04:20


So there’s a lot of things that are quite low tech that can be used to appraise the quality of information that people are sharing. And I think the main message as well is that if you’re in any doubt, perhaps think twice before you do share information unnecessarily, be able to prove its false one way or the other. But if you have any doubts, maybe think twice before you do share it.

04:21 – 04:39


You can keep up to date with all the walk of Cumberland Lodge on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook @CumberlandLodge on our website Thank you again to Alex for joining us and thanks for listening.