The fake news continues!


The Sun newspaper has been criticising celebrities and social media platforms for the spread of fake news about coronavirus despite the fact that comments on its own website were broadcasting dangerous conspiracy theories to potentially millions of readers.


The comments published, which remained accessible for over two weeks, include the allegations that 5G is dangerous and is being pushed by a global elite with a nefarious agenda. The Sun’s website reaches up to 7m people every day.


To allow these posts to remain accessible as 5G towers were being attacked across the country is deeply irresponsible.


In our research, we found reader comments on The Sun website that broadcasting 5G “fake news”/disinformation for at least two weeks despite there being no evidence the masts are linked to the spread of the virus.


We found that under an article about 5G mast locations published by The Sun newspaper on 6th April, several reader comments falsely alleged 5G was unsafe.


The article in question allows readers a way to approximately locate where masts had been erected, and was published in the knowledge that attacks on 5G masts were being reported around the UK. Yet comments alleging that this technology was unsafe were published and left accessible to The Sun’s millions of online readers for at least two weeks.


Several newspapers, including The Sun, have been critical of the spread of disinformation on social media platforms, and criticised social media companies for perceived inaction over the issue.


And where is IPSO? IPSO claims to regulate the comment sections of newspaper websites yet it has not lifted a finger to address these posts, several of which directly allege that 5G is a danger to public health. It is not fit for purpose.


IPSO’s do-nothing approach is failing the public who need access to accurate information, and it is failing the media which is reliant on public trust.


The Government has gone out of its way to assure newspaper publishers that they will be unaffected by any new regulatory regime for Online Harms. That approach, that serious harms are acceptable if they are committed by a large and powerful news publisher, has never looked more backward or absurd.


The research is set out below, and was published yesterday by the DCMS Disinformation Sub-Committee as part of the evidence to its inquiry on disinformation about COVID-19 submitted by the Hacked Off Campaign.

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Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Caroline Purbrickreply
May 1, 2020 at 7:41 am

All through this pandemic period, I have been disgusted with the attitude of the Media, especially the BBC who have revelled in every little problem that the government has had to deal with The negative reporting that has occurred is amazing.

Heather Wilshawreply
May 2, 2020 at 6:07 pm
– In reply to: Caroline Purbrick

I totally agree with you, even now that the testing has reached its target they are quibbling over if the home tests shouldn’t be included.

I don’t think they understand that the public want some good news not all of the negative stuff.

Heather Wilshawreply
May 1, 2020 at 10:04 am

Does your committee also cover broadcasters because I have heard what I think is disinformation on the BBC during the coronavirus period. I would not say that they lie but they report things in a way that is not accurate and try to give a different slant on the subject.

I Finleyreply
May 2, 2020 at 9:29 am
– In reply to: Heather Wilshaw

You say ‘ I have heard what I think is disinformation on the BBC during the coronavirus period.’. Please give at least two specific examples, including the programme, time and date of broadcast, and a description of the disinformation.

Ronald Hartleyreply
May 1, 2020 at 11:09 am

The National Press is a National Scandal. Far from being an essential support to our democratic and economic way of life, as they frequently claim, they are purveyors of scandal, celebrity gossip, and any headline that will boost circulation, and hence profits. They should be properly regulated by an independent organisation like, for example, ITV. which nobody claims restricts its freedom to publish or produce programmes.

Paul Schofieldreply
May 1, 2020 at 7:39 pm

Correct. The Press as usual abuse their position in our society, tv included, in what feels like a constant flow of cage rattling comments that will obviously hit the most vulnerable, the hardest, whilst still purveying so much filth that fills the minds of our people, especially the young, whose very youth makes vulnerable to the amoral nonsense that is purveyed. The time has passed and this abuse of ‘freedom’ must have serious government legislation passed to do to them what they fail to do to themselves. They have escaped proper control consistently with lies and false promises. Lets fix it once and for all.

Brendan Moorereply
May 2, 2020 at 9:29 am

Would Caroline Purbrick call the following statement “revelling in every little problem the government faces” ? She accuses the very mild BBC .
The government’s response has been characterised by complacency, arrogance and delay “. far more hard hitting than the BBC, isn’t it ? Who do you think wrote it ?
That well known nest of left wing subversives, the British Medical Journal in its editorial of 25th April. Following it with “Shameful neglect of social care in the pandemic”. Unnecessary deaths and economic chaos follow. One only has to look at countries like Germany to see how the emergency could have been treated if we did not have the worst regulated press in the Western World covering up for them for failure following years of cuts.

Eve Hollandreply
May 2, 2020 at 12:38 pm

All through this pandemic period, I have been disgusted with the attitude of the Media, especially the BBC…….. who have hardly been at all critical of our government who have created the situation where we have one of the worst death rates in Europe, when we had more warning than most, not least from Italy. A combination of Johnson having to deal with his complicated private life when he should have been preparing the UK for a pandemic, a pathetic cabinet full of nodding donkeys, and over-reliance on a nefarious character who no-one voted for and is in contempt of Parliament (Cummings) and who considers reading the odd book makes him an expert on anything, have made us the sickest nation of our continent.
Not that you would know if you watched the BBC or read almost any of our print media. The disinformation spread by those with an agenda to keep their gravy train running is obscene, from pictures of “crowds” who were supposedly breaking the lockdown at Brighton that were taken last summer to slavish cheerleading for a government whose sense of superiority led us to fatally endanger huge numbers of our population unnecessarily. Let’s stop this!

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