Turning Fact-based News Into Opinion-based Gossip

I was surprised to see Prince Harry – or is that just Harry these days? – pop up on the news talking tech.

Apparently he warned Dorse and the Zuck that their platforms could incite violence just hours before the January storming of the US Senate.

But he made one comment in the 30-minute appearance at the Wired conference:

“I learned from a very early age that the incentives of publishing are not necessarily aligned with the incentives of truth. They successfully turned fact-based news into opinion-based gossip with devastating consequences. I know this story all too well. I lost my mother to this self-manufactured rabidness, and obviously I’m determined not to lose the mother of my children to the same thing.”

It’s a strong statement.

It builds on the fake news movement, but it goes deeper than this.

I often receive phishing contacts, and some are more and more convincing. Your PayPal account has been just been accessed: was it you; you have a package on the way from DHL, click here to pay the import fee; a text message saying your account has been compromised, click here; a message saying that someone is messing with your account details, click to …

You get the message and I get those messages non-stop. Most are fake. I check the details and ensure that the email address is verified and from the company in question.

Then you get the phone calls. This is your card company, please confirm your account details. This is ABC Bank, can we confirm that this is you? It’s the governmental tax office, you have an issue with unpaid tax.

It is difficult as they are getting more and more sophisticated. I’ve been suckered by a couple of these scam schemes, but I have layers of protection. Even so, the latest one that caught me out was from a company that looked exactly as though it was my credit card provider. I checked and double-checked, and gave my account access details eventually, and then realised it was bogus.

If we, who are informed, can be so easily caught out, how is it for the average Joe and Jane?

Now, taking it one step further, we are getting beyond phishing and fake news to deep fake everything. When I see deep fakes, I find it astonishing how easy it is today to fake everything.

What this says to me is that we need to be wary of everything. Anyone who contacts you is probably a stranger who wants to steal from you. That’s the message. If you don’t know who the person is who is emailing, calling or contacting you, tell them you will make contact later.

You know what? It takes me back to being a boy. Never trust strangers. You want a sweetie? Would you like to come and see my kittens? Pop into my car and we will go to the zoo! No, get lost, you’re just a predatory stranger and I don’t trust you.

This is how you need to think about your money, accounts and access. Unfortunately, far too many people don’t.

Related: The Elephant Called … or Is That a Cryptophant?