Scotland in Europe Update 26th October 2018

I’ve seen how the growth of social media has enriched and empowered folk across Scotland. How it is impacting upon other media I think remains to be seen, and indeed today’s giants like Facebook and Twitter may be tomorrow’s MySpace and Bebo. This is a fast moving environment.

But it is not all positive, and there are regular lurid headlines about abuse or fake news. We’re kidding ourselves if we think Scotland is all sweetness and rainbows. As an out gay pro-EU Nat I'll hear no lectures from anyone about abusive cybernats – all Scottish discourse is infested by a small minority who just want to crash things. We'll all benefit from upping our digital literacy.

With that in mind I’ve commissioned researcher and author JJ Patrick to examine Twitter, and his independent report "Scotland and Social Media, Trolls Under the Bridge?" is published today, you can download a copy from my site:

He analysed a total of 27,000 Twitter accounts, with 9,981 being the main focus given that their geographic location is openly set up to identify as "Scotland". The findings are intriguing. He has found that some 4.25% of Scottish Twitter activity is identifiable as potentially malign, though this rises to a maximum of 12.24% in an assessment of certain account types. Malign bots - those aimed at influencing public discourse and currently active on Scottish Twitter, centre around Brexit and "Dissolve The Union" messaging. Of 36.4 million tweets analysed, a potential maximum of 4.2 million tweets could be malign, and the report’s author warns that Scotland’s social media user community is likely to see itself increasingly targeted by bots and trolls.

So there’s some wasps in the room, and the report indicates that we all need to ca’canny. There’s also a lot of great stuff on Scottish Twitter (much of it hilarious and I only wish I could retweet on my parliamentary account!) but there are also persons unknown out to sow discord and confusion.

In the light of the report, as well as publishing it today so everyone can read it and judge for themselves, I’ve launched to empower Scottish (and indeed any) social media users to access the three online troll identification engines rated by experts in the field.

All in all, the report shows that there’s a lot of good to come from social media in Scotland. Let’s all up our digital literacy and remember that online all might not be what it seems.



The Hansard Society has undertaken a study of how well prepared the UK is for leaving the EU. It is expected that the UK will need between 800 and 1,000 Statutory Instruments (SIs) to prepare the statute book for exit day. So far the UK has managed… 80! So only around 900 to go!

According to the National Audit Office 11 of 12 key computer systems required for the UK border are at risk of not being competed in time for Brexit.

The EU has backed action against Russian fake news.

UCL has produced a good analysis of how the EU has comprehensively out negotiated the UK. Here is a clue, 27 really is bigger than 1.

Top Scientists have again warned of the damage Brexit will cause.

The UK Civil Service has started to consider a second referendum.

Companies will start to activate their no deal plans at Christmas.

The European Court of Auditors (ECA) invites you respond to the survey on its Annual Reports concerning the financial year 2017. This is another example of the EU’s transparency and openness.:

“The ECA strives to produce reports of high impact and which are useful to its stakeholders. This survey gives you the opportunity to provide feedback on the ECA's Annual Report on the implementation of the budget and on the Annual Report on the activities funded by the European Development Funds concerning the financial year 2017. You can also provide your views on other aspects of the ECA and its work.”

The updated version of the Scottish Governments proposal to keep UK in the Single Market and Customs Union was approved by the Scottish Parliament.

There is more and more backing for this from across the UK.

The National Institute Economic Review has warned that a hard Brexit will cost £30bn more than a soft Brexit.

The House of Lords has published a report on Brexit: plant and animal biosecurity

Neale Richmond Chairman on the Irish Senate’s Brexit Committee has asked if the UK reneged on the Irish backstop, as Mr Raab wishes, could it ever be trusted again?

The European Parliament has published a report on “The Future Relationship between the UK and the EU following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU in the field of family law.”

Russia has blocked the UK’s post Brexit Trade proposal to the WTO.

And Australia has backed them up.

David Henig has put together an excellent piece on what the UK needs to learn from the EU with regard to trade policy.

UK Government officials have privately warned ministers that no deal on personal data would cause “substantial disruption” and “significant legal costs” for businesses.

Meat could increase in prince by 50% in the case of a no deal scenario.

Finally and with some sadness I must report that the European Parliament has signed of the move European Medicines Agency away from the UK because of Brexit.

and has done the same for the European Banking Authority