Information and Society

Information is in constant change and ever-increasing in terms of quantity. It has changed our society over the last decades and it will have the exponential same effect in the future, which brings benefits, but also disadvantages.

Regarding the problems, data protection has been an increasing issue, leading to the lack of trust in companies. This makes consumers provide false information to businesses, avoiding handing their own data, fearing that someone might be misusing it without consent.

Thus, the problem of ‘fake data’ arises, which can be difficult to solve. Improper information may only be spotted through posterior analysis of that data. Furthermore, it loses credibility since it is not supported by actual evidence.

So, it is crucial that this information is treated in a proper way. However, humans cannot play the biggest part in this procedure, as the work would not be as flawless as it should be, and it would take an enormous amount of time to process it manually. Therefore, we must rely on artificial intelligence to create accurate and reliable information that companies can use accordingly.

Consequently, a need for regulation emerges. The government should effectively preserve the interests of their citizens and make sure that the companies are thriving.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is an example of regulation that aims to protect the privacy of citizens, while ensuring that companies do not mishandle their data.

A controversial example would be article 13. This legislation regulates online content and its sharing, meaning that social platforms will be now accountable for illegal distribution of content. This forced more restriction on those social platforms’ filters. Hence, the content is over filtered, which may lead to imprecise detections and curbing some content that should not be. So, by protecting the copyrights of big editor companies, it might limit the access to and creation of derivative content by users.

To conclude, our contemporary society relies on good quality information that require a correct treatment. So, although there are initiatives to regulate how society manages information, we must continue to improve them so that everyone can benefit from it.


Cohen, M. (2017). Fake news and manipulated data, the new GDPR, and the future of information. Business Information Review, 34(2), 81–85.

Coos, A. (2018, February 1). GDPR: The Pros and The Cons. Retrieved May 22, 2019, from Endpoint Protector Blog website:

Report, G. (2018, June 5). Why GDPR alone won’t solve the ‘fake data’ crisis. Retrieved May 22, 2019, from GDPR Report website:

A brief guide to political ideologies

Nowadays it seems that extremist political ideologies are on the rise on the Western World (Europe and Americas). Popularized by populist tactics like a discourse against the corrupt and treasonous elite, demagoguery, appeals to passion in the population they are becoming more and more influential, even seizing power and control of the government in many countries. However, are they really that extreme?

Political ideologies are a complicated business. A political ideology is a set of ideas on what society should become and how to achieve that goal. There are many different ideologies, many times with opposing ideals for society. Due to the incredible diversity of thoughts, status, identity and life experiences of people, it was inevitable that many different ideas for how to run society would appear. A good way to explain ideologies is to create a spectrum with one or more dimensions and try to classify, the simplest one is left vs right.

The idea of leftwing and rightwing politics comes from the French Revolution. Commoners railed against the disproportionate power of the clergy, nobility and the King, and wanted to create a more democratic system where most people could influence and control their nation’s government. Revolutionaries and liberals (workers and businessmen) against the conservative clergy and nobility sat on the left and right respectively of the assembly relatively to the speaker perspective.

There was a coalition of very different people on the left of that parliament, from poor peasants to rich members of the bourgeoise. They were united in that they wanted to shift the balance of power from the Church and from nobles, and create a more democratic, republican, liberal society, with no one above or below the law, a fairer law, political and taxation system. Liberalism was a leftwing movement and conservativism rightwing.

That liberal society ought to be based on liberalism, an ideology originated mainly in Europe against the norms of hereditary privilege, state religion, absolute monarchy, the divine right of kings and traditional conservatism, for representative democracy and the rule of law. They were pro free-trade and free markets. Nowadays that liberalism is called classical liberalism, especially in the United States, where mainstream liberalism became supportive of moderate to sizable state intervention in the economy and society to reduce inequalities of all kinds.

As societies become republican, or at least more democratic, law and justice systems stopped favoring the traditional ruling classes, and capitalism rose with the industrial revolution, a new liberal status quo emerged in the mid to late 19th century. Businessman benefited tremendously from these changes, while most working people’s life quality barely improved or even worsened. The new conservatism now defended the preservation of this political order, and people who wanted to go back the ancient regime could be considered reactionaries.

Through those tumultuous changes in the society and politics of the 19th century, conservatism established itself, not as a clear set of ideas of what society should be, but as more of an attitude of resisting radical change to society and the natural order of things. Conservatism promotes or accepts traditional institutions, tradition, hierarchy, human imperfection, authority and property rights. So mainstream conservatism accepted representative democracy and modern capitalism. Liberalism would also mutate, as classical liberalism was becoming rightwing, or at best, centrist or moderate, and wasn’t promoting the interests of the disadvantaged masses as well as it should.

After all, for many society hadn’t improved enough even with all the technological and economical advances. Even with fair courts and men’s suffrage, property rights, constitutional limits on rulers’ power among others, many people were still living miserable lives and inequality arguably rose with the emergence of a capitalistic (where capital accumulation was the goal) industrial society. Most people worked long hours poorly paid, had little protection in disease, old age, unemployment… Children still had to work, economical and real political power was still reserved to a minority. The left stopped being the coalition of diverse groups and interests opposed to the traditional ruling classes and become more radical in response to the changes and possibilities afforded by the industrial revolution. Leftists intellectuals and many poorer people saw the enormous wealth that was being created but were deeply frustrated and angered that not enough was reaching them. Philosophers like Marx and Engel argued that workers would be forever increasingly exploited by the bourgeoise which would get ever richer and more powerful. Unless they took action and seized the means of production, meaning they would have to take control of government, installing a proletariat (working class) dictatorship to ultimately reach a much more equal society, not just in opportunity or before the law, but in outcome, where “from each according to its ability and to each according to his need”. The goal was a state free society (anarchist) where people worked together and land’s resources and capital are collectively owned. This ideal state is communism, and the intermediate condition is socialism. (Continues on page two)

Transgenic food

Since ages past man has imagined a world where he could control the production and development of all his resources, including food. As of very recently this may have escaped the realm of imagination, as advancements in science are reaching a point where genetically modified food can be commercialized, and in some cases is already. However not everyone is excited over this, having doubts about its safety and effects on the market.

Transgenic food, or genetically modified food, is food that is made from organisms whose DNA has been altered to either improve its growth or its nutritional value. This means that these organisms have generally better properties than other non modified ones. For example, papaya plantations in Hawaii have been modified to resist a devastating virus, the ringspot virus, which was “Its single-handed savior”, making up 80% of the papaya population. The most common GM crops are soybeans, corn, cotton and canola, as an example, around 86% of the corn harvested in the USA in 2010 and 93% of the cotton produced in  there is also genetically modified, to be herbicide and insecticide resistant, and also likely to provide higher yields and more resistance to atmospheric factors.

However, despite the benefits, controversy in this subject is abundant, as modifying our food at the genetic level is not generally seen positively by the consumers. Food & Water Watchs “Five Things Monsanto Doesn’t Want You to Know About GMOs”  states how transgenic crops are not any better than regular crops, not actually providing higher yields, how it increases chemical use and, most of all, how it augments “corporate control of our food”. Center For Food Safety, a non-profit organization dedicated to ”protect human health and the environment by curbing the use of harmful food production technologies and by promoting organic and other forms of sustainable agriculture” is also against GM food, stating that various studies found that these present a grave threat to”farmers, human health, domesticated animals, wildlife and the environment”. Public view on the subject is also very poor, as it is estimated that only 30% of the US population is in agreeance with these products.

On the flip side, various scientific resources state the contrary. For instance, the World Health organization (WHO) states that not only have there have not been any negative side effects to human health from the consumption of GM food, but that the nutritional value of these could be higher in some cases, therefore being a preferable option over their natural counterparts. Also, as it was referenced above, genetic modification can facilitate growth of crops in adverse environments. Some studies also reference how 90% of scientists are in favor of GM food, and most of the discordance comes from the consumers, likely to biases towards the term “genetic modification”, as it is often attached to a negative sentiment. Golden rice, a modified rice with genes from maize and a soil bacterium, is rich in vitamin A and, according to the reason journal, it is able to save millions as many suffer from vitamin a deficiency. It shows figures stating that in 2014, due to activists preventing golden rice from being distributed to the populace, 1.4 million “life-years” have been lost, refering to both deaths and cripiling deficiencies caused by vitamin a deficiency.

Genetically modified food is a subject of controversy, however this is not really based on facts as all the evidence point to major benefits to both our health as well as the environment. It cannot be overlooked that, with all the benefits there are risks, as the creation of these methods does increase corporate influence, but this can be mitigated if the laws adapt to these new technologies. Risk involving specific products has to be verified on a case-to-case basis, but as of now no commercialized product has failed safety checks, which are very rigorous,so that should not provide much concern. So if we evolve our ideologies with these technologies, we can make the most out of it without taking the risk of them backfiring.


World Health Organization. (2014). Q&A: genetically modified food. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 May 2019].

Bawa, A. S., & Anilakumar, K. R. (2013). Genetically modified foods: safety, risks and public concerns-a review. Journal of food science and technology, 50(6), 1035–1046. doi:10.1007/s13197-012-0899-1[Accessed 21 May 2019].

Center for Food Safety. (n.d.). Center for Food Safety | About GE Foods. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 May 2019].

Food & Water Watch. (2015). Five Things Monsanto Doesn’t Want You to Know About GMOs. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 May 2019].

Bailey, R. (2019). Life-Saving Golden Rice Finally Gets to Poor Farmers Despite Environmentalist Opposition. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 May 2019].


Some of us have probably come across some article about how a certain celebrity made thousands of dollars investing on cryptocurrencies. Well, this article will not teach you how to do it, instead it will show you how to think critically about it and question it.

Cryptocurrency is “a digital asset that is constructed to function as a medium of exchange, premised on the technology of cryptography, to secure the transactional flow, as well as to control the creation of additional units of the currency.” (Chohan, 2017). It works as any other currency like we know, namely the Euro, the US Dollar, and so on, because it has monetary value, since it is a medium of exchange. And like other currencies, people can invest on it and purchase it.

However, the way people see the cryptocurrency market may not be the same as the way they portray the “regular” currency market, because despite being similar, the control over them works very differently. This keeps going when celebrities and influencers promote or endorse these cryptocurrencies, since they can actually change people’s minds and influence them to invest on a certain cryptocurrency, especially when they may be paid to do so. Consequently, this could lead to some phenomena like inflation which might be hard for some people to understand how it works and how we can take advantage out of it.

Also, people who have a lot of capital can actually influence a lot the price of a given cryptocurrency and there are a lot of techniques that they use to win a lot of money. (Quinlivan, 2018)

At the end, we must be well informed about what we want to act on, so that we don’t incur any risks due to our lack of knowledge.


Chohan, U. (2017, August 25). Cryptocurrencies: A Brief Thematic Review. From SSRN website:

Quinlivan, B. (2018, July 19). The Mysterious Manipulation of Crypto Markets and How to Manage. From Hackernoon website:

Brexit and Fake news

On 23rdJune 2016, the Brexit referendum was held to decide the permanence of the United Kingdom (UK) in the European Union (EU). There was a turnout of 72.2% and the results were close, as 51.9% of the citizens voted to leave, against 48.1% that wanted to stay. 

Despite this outcome, the decision came as a surprise to many. However, we have to take into consideration that, nowadays, there is a wave of misinformation that has the ability to influence political opinions. 

Technology is a powerful political weapon that targets people specifically according to their psychological profile. In this case, both “Remain” and “Leave” campaigns were accused of making misleading claims.

For instance, a “Remainer”, Alan Johnson claimed that “Two thirds of British jobs in manufacturing are dependent on demand from Europe”, while analyzing outdated information made by the Centre of Economics and Business Research. Therefore, this comparison was not possible, making his statement incorrect. 

On the other hand, the “Leave” campaign was much more aggressive and with a considerable amount of inaccurate and deceiving claims. 

The ideas of hatred and xenophobia against migrants were able to spread due to the disinformation environment that lied within the British press. There were many first pages published that perceived migrants as a threat to the UK safety. So, the only way to fight this would be by exiting the EU. 

This idea of distrust in Europe was spread numerous times and was fed by fake and misleading propaganda such as: 

An anti-immigration billboard that was very controversial. It shows a queue of refugees hoping to reach Europe and claims “Breaking point: the EU has failed us all”, appealing to vote “Leave”. This poster was similar to fascist propaganda and promotes racial hatred, fear and urgency to vote.

The adverts “Turkey(population 76 million) is joining the EU” and “Britain’s new border is with Syria and Iraq” were spread during the “Leave” campaign. The goal was to have stricter immigration legislation. However, this claim was false, as, at that time, negotiations between Turkey and the EU were in the first stage of a very slow process that is ongoing for more than 30 years and depends on the agreement of all EU members. 

Vote Leave Facebook ad

Another controversial and popular statement: “We send the EU £350m a week. Let’s fund our National Health Service instead”. This was considered a “clear misuse of official statistics” by The UK Statistics Authority, as it did not take in consideration the amount of money that the UK receives from the EU. The actual number would be £250 million a week. 

Other “Leave” ads stated that the EU wanted to ban tea kettles, regulate apps like Uber and restrict on-demand platforms such as Netflix.  Also, it was said that photos in the London Eye would be banned by the EU.  The environment and animal rights are also victims of these misleading campaign, as some suggested that the EU prevents people from protecting and speaking about polar bears.

To conclude, all these claims needed to be clarified as they are misleading and some even completely false and contributed to voters’ misinformation and ignorance. In fact, an indication of this is that one day after the referendum the most searched question in the UK on Google was “What does it mean to leave the EU” and right after that was “What is the EU?”. So, it is clear that misinformation is influencing political decisions and we need to tackle it. 


Media Lies And Brexit

Climate Change

Climate change has been a growing problem ever since the industrial revolution with the rise of factories and the use of fossil fuels. These infrastructures release an egregious amount of greenhouse gases through the burning of the fuels, which essentially increases the temperature at the earth’s surface and oceans.

To this day there is still debate whether humans are causing it or if it is actually happening. However, there is a lot of strong evidence. The NASA website on climate change evidence shows the result of studies that prove the increase of the average temperature around the globe, warming of the oceans, shrinking ice sheets, glacial retreat, among others.(

This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution. (Credit: Vostok ice core data/J.R. Petit et al.; NOAA Mauna Loa CO2 record.)

Before this evidence, some people still doubt the evidence,which is what takes as its mission to debunk. This site reviews not only the scientific sources, but also the counter-arguments to these, and combines the two to dispel any doubts one may have about this topic. It’s a must visit for anyone who questions climate change.
Another point of contention is about the human influence on climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) is the main body when it comes to studies of this nature and it claims that our society is promoting climate change. However this is still being debated by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change(NIPCC), who claim that human activities have little to no impact in climate change, supported by scientific studies. Claims that this organization are biased are abundant, like the report on Climate science and Policy Watch, that shows that their “report is not a credible scientific undertaking, and the Heartland Institute has no credibility, scientific or otherwise.”


Anthropogenic global warming and climate change is a serious threat to mankind. Sea levels will likely rise to the point where many coastal lands and cities are flooded. Rising temperatures and new patterns of precipitation may seriously impact food production and lead to massive hunger. Millions of people could die or have to move, leading to massive instability and suffering. In order to protect our quality of life, our economy, our species and civilization success and prosperity, we need to immediately start rethinking the incentives in our economy that lead to massive pollution and environmental damage. We have to reduce consumption of certain goods and services, possibly replacing them with greener alternatives, or revolutionize our technology to be much more efficient. We are the only ones who can save ourselves.

Where did all the talk about “Fake News” come from?

Fake News, consisting of propaganda based on disinformation or hoaxes, have been around for a long time, since the Antiquity and Egyptians. There have been hoaxes spread by people or even governments all the time, including very important historical events like the French Revolution of 1789, when the french term for fake news at the time “canard” helped lead to queen Marie Antoinette decapitation. The pharaoh Rameses the Great also spread lies and propaganda depicting a tied battle as a stunning victory in the 13th century BC.

Then with the rise of newspapers fake news spread even more, especially during the twentieth century in the First World War, both the press and cinema were used as weapons of propaganda based on lies to help boost morale and win the war.

While this term has been around for a long time, since 2016 it has gained prominence. This is due to the presidential election in the United States, where more truly fake news were spread than ever. Some candidates, like the eventual winner Donald Trump, said and spread so many lies, hoaxes and misinformation that fact-checkers could barely keep up. The naivety of many voters also made them think the United States was in a worse state economically, criminally and socially than it was, and that Hillary Clinton was very corrupt and perhaps even involved in violent crimes and terror when she most likely never was. Social media helped spread the rise of fake news, where sensationalist posts, images and memes were spread millions of times, especially by older, more conservative voters.

However, to be fair there also fake news against Trump, for example a viral captioned image in where he supposedly said in a People Magazine interview that Republicans were the dumbest group of voters and therefore it would be easier to be nominated there. Trump also called and still calls most negative coverage of him “Fake News” even if they normally aren’t because he strongly dislikes the bias and hatred that most mainstream media publication in the United States have against him. He also called them the dishonest media and the lying press, insulting reporters, but even if he’d like a more positive bent and spin on his and his administration’s actions, he can barely do a thing about it since the media is protected by free speech clauses in the national constitution. Trump has even admitted he calls fake news merely negative, perhaps a little biased, news. This is one of the oldest dictators and strong man tricks, to call out the “Lying Press”.

So there are two main types of fake news, those are factually false, and fact-checker work hard to fight them, like Politifact and Snopes in the US, and Polígrafo in Portugal, and there are fake news which are negative news articles or opinion pieces about you, perhaps presented in a biased, pessimistic manner, and sometimes including predictions that will turn out wrong (like that Trump would cause a big economic recession). Always check carefully your news’ sources and always be sceptical and careful not just with straight-out lies, but also misrepresentation and bias.


Weir, William (2009). History’s Greatest Lies. Beverly, Massachusetts: Fair Winds Press. pp. 28–41.
ISBN 978-1-59233-336-3.

Traqueia, Filipa, (2019, March 19). “Fake News”: Uma história tão antiga como a própria História.
Retrieved from

Charlton, Emma, (2019, March 6 ) “Fake news: What it is, and how to spot it” Retrieved from

Vaccines: Threat to global health?

Vaccines are recognised as one of the most successful and important tools to protect people and to ensure public health. However, an increasing number of people perceive vaccination as unnecessary and even question its safety. These individuals are hesitant or deny vaccinating themselves and their family fearing possible side effects.

There has been a paradigm shift in healthcare. The power was transferred to patients, as they now can access all kind of information within seconds. Online research and social media are much more convenient than going to the doctor or reading medical articles. Nevertheless, it can be very dangerous.  

All these factors contributed to the creation of an environment in which there is a wide and fast spread of opinions. Internet allows people to expose their views without filters. In this way, misinformation emerges, as groups like anti-vaccination believers take advantage and divulge falsehoods that can lead to physical injuries or even death.

Anti-vaccination defends many theories that have constantly been debunked by science. It is believed that vaccines are toxic and can lead to several diseases such as autism.

 This belief started in 1998, when a study made by Andrew Wakefield claimed there was a link between MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine and autism. His work was considered fraudulent, the paper was retracted, and he was banned from practicing medicine in the UK. However, Wakefield moved to the U.S. and is now travelling around the country revealing his theory and influencing crowds.

Donald Trump agrees with this view and invited this doctor to his inaugural ball. Also, he has tweeted about it more than 20 times. In 2015, before being elected, he affirmed during a Republican debate that the child of one of his employees developed autism after being vaccinated. Since being elected, Trump has remained silent about this matter.

Countless studies proved otherwise, however this belief has persisted for decades and generated doubt and fear. This hesitancy lead to such low vaccination coverage, that it is far from the 95% needed to prevent measles outbreaks.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the global number of measles cases increased more than 30%, since 2016. In 2017, there were 110 000 measles deaths worldwide.

Just in Europe, where people can easily access vaccines and information, there were 82 596 cases of measles. In 2018, 72 deaths were registered in European countries alone. These are shocking numbers as there is a vaccine that can prevent this disease. Moreover, it is estimated by this organization that measles vaccination has prevented about 21.1 million deaths globally, since 2000.

The way people see public institutions is also changing. This, combined with the nature of the Internet, allowed the advent of conspiracy theories. For instance, it is considered that the government and the pharmaceutical industry have unknown interests and are hiding “the truth” from citizens.

It is very worrying knowing that people believe this and spread it worldwide.

Vaccine hesitancy is considered one of the biggest threats to global health in 2019, by WHO: “Vaccine hesitancy – the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines – threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease – it currently prevents 2-3 million deaths a year, and a further 1.5 million could be avoided if global coverage of vaccinations improved”.

So, it is crucial to fight health misinformation, as it is a risk to our health.


Kata, A. (2010). A postmodern Pandora’s box: Anti-vaccination misinformation on the Internet. Vaccine, 28(7), 1709–1716.

Kata, A. (2012). Anti-vaccine activists, Web 2.0, and the postmodern paradigm – An overview of tactics and tropes used online by the anti-vaccination movement. Vaccine, 30(25), 3778–3789.


Bee Aware

Bees are said to be an important agent when it comes to pollination. In fact, bees are not only vital to produce honey or wax, but also play a significant role in agriculture (Michener, 2000). So, when people say that if the bees’ population continues to decline, the world would suffer from a serious food crisis, we might get a little bit alarmed.

Through the last decades, bee population has been declining at significant rates. “In central Europe, estimated losses since 1985 point to a 25% loss of honeybee colonies, with a 54% loss in the UK” (Tirado, Simon, & Johnston, 2013)

One of the many causes behind bee colonies decline are pesticides. If farmers continue to use as many pesticides and insecticides as they can, it will ruin the source of pollen for bees.(Gross, 2019). Pesticides and CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) actually have a correlation.

Parasites are also among the causes of the bee problem. Many beekeepers report that the Varroa mite is a serious problem that they face. An infestation with this virus might lead to the colony decease. This organism attaches to the bee and sucks the blood out of bee’s body, making it weak and eventually die.

Climate change had to be on the list of threats to bees, since it affects all species on the planet. Starting with the plants, the changes in temperature, humidity, etc., can alter the plants’ behavior or even resulting in their death, and consequently one less source for the bees. Furthermore, bees are also sensitive to climate change(Conte & Navajas, 2008). If the weather is not appropriate, bees do not go out of their hives and will not produce nor pollinate.

As much as people may find it irrelevant, bee colonies extinction is very relevant to our society. They are responsible for a lot of activities that the “regular person” may not be aware of, but that does not mean it is a problem that we do not need to worry about. Being active on these issues is also what makes a good citizen.


Conte, Y. L., & Navajas, M. (n.d.). Climate change: impact on honey bee populations and diseases. 13.

Gross, L. (2019, January 24). Pesticides Are Harming Bees in Literally Every Possible Way. Wired. Retrieved from

Michener, C. D. (2000). The Bees of the World. JHU Press.

Tirado, R., Simon, G., & Johnston, P. (n.d.). Situation. Retrieved March 31, 2019, from The Bees in Decline website: