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#BBCSwitchOff: The Hashtag Sweeping the Nation

Why are we turning off the BBC?

This evening (9 August) #BBCSwitchOff has been gaining traction over Twitter, reaching lofty heights and trending at No.1 in the UK and No. 4 globally in a matter of hours.

According to Twitter users, the hashtag, which started in Scotland, aims to encourage people to switch off from the BBC across the board, including social media, TV and radio. This is due to the widespread discontent at the ways in which the media company choose to report political goings on with many people believing that the organisation favours the Conservative government over the Labour opposition. The BBC, a supposedly unbiased source of news for the UK, has been accused of reporting several political incidences including misreporting the antisemitism scandal currently taking place within the Labour Party. Protesters are suggesting that Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has been painted as more culpable than he truly is.

According to research that examined media coverage of Corbyn and May during the 2016 snap election, claims that the BBC is biased against Corbyn are not unfounded. The overarching trend of the majority of the news outlets was to give much more airtime to those in opposition to Jeremy Corbyn and his political views. In the report, the BBC was highlighted for using "pejorative language" to describe Mr Corbyn and his political agenda. This issue was discussed in the report's analysis of the BBC's main evening broadcasts and led to a call for "a more plural and inclusive mainstream news media" from the report's author Dr. Justin Schlosberg. 

In mild contrast, the report did find that, while still biased, online coverage from the BBC during this time was more balanced. Whether the BBC chose to do this to cater to a younger audience already behind Corbyn, or this influenced the age divide of Corbynites and Tory supporters is unclear.

The BBC was by no means the sole culprit, with the ITV also implicated in the report. The broadcaster was accused of having a 'huge imbalance' during the election being described as giving "'considerably more equal attention' to opposing views."

Corbyn isn't the only topic that has Twitter users calling for a #BBCSwitchOff, with some citing the organisation's commentary on the Middle East as a reason to switch off from the media company. One Twitter user believes that the general representation of politics in the Middle East is biased. 

Many people are calling the BBC's recent work government propaganda and they are claiming that it is a threat to democracy. Certainly, the ways in which people consume media today could be used to dramatically shift public opinion. The sheer volume of journalism that social media users are exposed to on a daily basis is a cause for concern when the content is being controlled by a powerful few. In 2017, people were found to be consuming an average of nearly eight hours of media daily thanks largely thanks to social media. It's no surprise then that politically active users would seek to take back control of the media and not allow large organisations to preach their own agendas to the masses.

Propaganda is a word that is often used lightly in the present day, and many will associate it with the Second World War. However, the power of convincing propaganda is still very much relevant to our world today. It's quite possible that the UK could be facing a dramatically different political landscape had a balanced approach to reporting been available in the mainstream and not just found in small internet niches. 

#BBCSwitchOff is more than just a pro-Corbyn campaign, it's a plea for the truth.

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#BBCSwitchOff: The Hashtag Sweeping the Nation
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