TikTok Creator, Dylan Page, Hits Back At British News Organization for Anti-Social Media Spin

Mainstream media demonizing social media is nothing new in North America. Dylan Page shows that this problem goes much further.

It’s no secret that mainstream media absolutely hates social media. In North America, we get a constant drum beat of all the evils that is social media like it’s some giant monolithic threat to society. In Canada, especially since the Bill C-18 debate kicked off, Canadian media has flooded the airwaves and filled newspapers with conspiracy theories about how things like social media is trying to murder democracy. You can’t help but shake your head at just how far gone the media is with that alone.

In the US, it’s a similar story. Between conspiracy theories about how platforms are a secret Chinese operatives trying to take over the country to stirring up moral panic with fake TikTok trends, the media has been in constant overdrive about how social media is some demonic monster that’s about to eat your first born.

From a casual observer special, a lot about this screams the media trying desperately to retain audiences as they simply get beaten at their own game of producing content people want to watch. One question some might have is whether or not this trend of demonizing social media is strictly a North American thing or not. As Dylan Page of TikTok recently showed, this trend of casting social media as this giant threat to society is not exclusively a trend in North America.

According to Page, British news organization, ITV, reached out to him to ask him about younger audiences watching him for news on TikTok. He explained that the interview process seemingly went quite well with the reporter and crew being quite nice to him. The conversation he had seemed to go quite well. Then, to his shock, what aired on ITV afterwards was something entirely different. So, he posted a video about it, trying to set the record straight. In the video, he also heavily criticized the news organization for applying so much spin on the story in question.

Indeed, today, there is more debate than ever about whether or not the news in traditional formats can be trusted. It is also true that a lot of reports try to claim that you can’t trust anything at all that appears on social media because it’s supposedly biased, likely untrue, or just plain conspiracy theories poisoning people’s minds. What’s worse, you have the spin that social media is partly controlled by the Chinese government and is spying on your every move. Claims like that wound up being quite dubious because when you dig deep into such stories, there is little hard evidence to back it up beyond the conjecture of it having headquarters in China, therefore, China knows everything you do.

So, it is rather ironic that the story itself was apparently about trust in mainstream media. This is because if you want to build trust in the media, the media has to present stories in a straight forward and honest manner. This is precisely what did not happen here, according to Page. Instead, it was a story intent on sending a message to say that social media is the source of all disinformation and that audiences must tune to broadcast TV to get actual facts and trusted information. You don’t accomplish this by trying to spin a story by having a conclusion first, then crafting that story to point to that conclusion because that is your own personal opinion on matters.

This sort of behaviour is exactly what I avoid at all costs. I try to examine the facts and offer conclusions based on those facts. If the facts don’t support what I initially thought about something, I simply change my own personal perspective on things and admit when I’m wrong or when something surprised me – which, I must say, does in fact happen to me from time to time. What’s more, I am open to learning new things as well and will fully admit that I don’t know everything. That’s just the nature of the journalism gig. When you adopt philosophies like that, things generally turn out well. What you report on is what information you happened to have at the time.

At no point do I think about messaging or trying to make sure people think a certain way. What’s more, I don’t try to massage the message or try and cover up facts that happen to be inconvenient. Additionally, the last thing on my mind is whether or not a party happens to look good or another party happens to look bad. I let actions of others speak for themselves. If you are doing that, you have crossed the line from journalism to being a propagandaist.

It’s frustrating to see stuff like this happen in the media, but when I do see these things happen, I am reminded as to the real reason why trust in the media is plummeting. There’s a multitude of reasons, but it does seem to have less to do with some shady silver tongued person spreading lies online and convincing gullible people to believe him instead, and more to do with people seeing the media warping the facts for the purposes of setting an agenda. When you spend your days convincing people that younger people are killing everything, saying that video games are destroying peoples brains, social media is practically the devil incarnate, or finding other ways of demonizing a whole generation, is it really that big of a surprise that there’s a whole cohort of people that don’t like your coverage after? Not really.

What ITV did here won’t do a thing to restore trust in the traditional media. If you are part of the traditional media doing things like spiking editorials for criticisms of something you happen to like or demonizing something you don’t like, and you are wondering why people are increasingly unlikely to trust you, then maybe it’s time to look in the mirror. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll find some answers there.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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