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Spread of disinformation and fake news a threat to UK democracy, says report

Today the DCMS Committee published its report on Disinformation and “fake news”. The report’s recommendations include:

  1. Statutory regulation for social media companies
  2. Tools to assist the public in determining the reliability of news sources

 

Hacked Off Director Kyle Taylor responded,

“Today, after an 18 month inquiry, the DCMS Committee has published its final report on Disinformation and ‘fake news’, ultimately concluding that social media platforms must have proper regulatory oversight — or the integrity of our democracy will suffer.

“If acted upon by the Government, this will increase the need for independent regulation of newspapers and major news websites, to prevent a double-standard between regulated news shared on social media, and the status quo of unregulated news in newspapers and news elsewhere online.”

“The report offers a damning vision of what the future may look like if we do not act now. Facebook, Google and other platforms will continue to expand their monopolies, profiting from our private information, and allowing the rampant spread of disinformation to cause boundless harm on societies and democracies all over the world.”

“The report makes our case for proper independent regulation of media much more urgent.  The UK public deserve fact-based journalism so we can make informed decisions about the future of our country.”

 

Commenting on the need for social media companies to be regulated, Hacked Off Director Kyle Taylor said,

“Both newspaper publishers and social media platforms have been responsible for the spread of harm and disinformation, which has the effect of undermining democracy. Independent regulation is essential to ensure the public is adequately protected from the unethical and damaging activities of elements of both industries – yet presently, neither are regulated. The public deserve adequate recourse as is already true with almost every other sector from energy suppliers to broadcast media.

“We welcome today’s CMS Committee report calling for that to change – as will over 3000 members of the public who have already signed Hacked Off’s open letter to Facebook’s Head of Global Affairs Sir Nick Clegg, which calls for the platform to submit itself to independent regulation.”

 

On the risk of a “double standard” between print news and news shared on social media, Kyle Taylor added,

“Social media regulation must come hand-in-hand with implementation of the Leveson recommendations on how to ensure a free and independent press, to ensure newspapers are incentivised to join an independent self-regulator. Without independent press regulation, a double-standard will be created, with zero regulation for the print editions of newspapers alongside statutory regulation for the same titles’ online editions which are shared on social media.”

 

On protecting freedom of speech, Kyle Taylor said:

“It is essential that the regulatory body proposed for platforms is unimpeachably independent of both politicians and the industry, including the process for the formulation of any code, to protect freedom of speech and prevent Government interference in the regulation of news shared on social media platforms.”

 

On recommendation 48, which calls on social media companies to distinguish between reliable and unreliable sources, Kyle Taylor said:

“The spread of disinformation on social media platforms represents a devastating threat to democracy.  The Committee’s recommendation, that social media companies must do more to help the public assess the reliability of sources of news, should be implemented at least in part on the basis of whether a source is an independently-regulated publisher.

Only an independently audited regulatory system is in a position to determine the credibility of news sources in a truly independent manner.”

 

ENDS

For press enquiries contact: sara@hackinginquiry.org and 07554 665 940

 

NOTES:

Hacked Off is the campaign for a free and accountable press, and we work with the victims of press abuse to achieve those aims.

 

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5 Comments

Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

John Bakerreply
February 18, 2019 at 6:27 pm

Chances that the Government will take this to heart? I’m not holding my breath – far too much at stake that would weaken the PM’s standing.

Davidreply
February 18, 2019 at 9:15 pm

some of the newspapers most responsible for fake news are shouting loudly for social media to be vetted!

Peterreply
February 19, 2019 at 9:40 am

Spot on.

Chris Francisreply
February 19, 2019 at 9:56 am

Who will be responsible for the independent monitoring body. Who do we trust nowadays? David Attenborough and who else?

Andyreply
February 20, 2019 at 8:44 pm

I have an add-on to my browser, called “NewsGuard”, which gives a trustworthiness rating for news sites. It is interesting that The Daily Mail was rated as less truthful, and more propagandist, than Russia Today, a propaganda instrument of the Russian state.

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