Response to comments from DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP: Newspapers and their websites must be held accountable over spread of false information on COVID-19


The DCMS Committee is appealing for examples of disinformation on social media for its inquiry into Disinformation on COVID-19.


Speaking today, Committee Chair Julian Knight called for social media companies to be held to account for deliberate false information being shared on their platforms.


He made no mention of the fake news being shared on national newspaper websites and the social media platforms those newspapers operate.


Hacked Off Director Kyle Taylor said, 


“Newspapers and the social media platforms they operate as “below the line” comment sections are hotbeds of conspiracy theories and disinformation about 5G and other matters, often with the articles themselves misrepresenting or distorting facts to begin with.


“Unlike private citizens’ Facebook and Twitter posts, press content regularly reaches millions of readers. In the context of a social media platform newspapers are – by proxy – “users” who are generating content” and should thus be held to at least the same scrutiny as an individual with ten followers if not more considering their reach and influence.


“Any investigation into fake news which discounts the role of news publishers and the social media content they are responsible for cannot possibly hope to substantively engage with the problem.


We know verified newspaper accounts play a decisive role in amplifying misinformation. This is a serious crisis and requires a serious response that puts accountability and informing the public first.


“Legislators must take meaningful action to address fake news and other Online Harms wherever they are committed, and whomever they are committed by.”



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