News ID: 233204
Published: 0855 GMT October 23, 2018

MPs accuse British government of complacency over 'fake news' on Facebook

MPs accuse British government of complacency over 'fake news' on Facebook

The UK’s government is not taking the urgent action needed to protect democracy from ‘fake news’ on Facebook and other social media, MPs warned.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) of the UK Parliament wants a crackdown on, among other things, the manipulation of personal data and the spread of disinformation, BBC reported.

Tory MP Damian Collins, who chairs the committee, said he is ‘disappointed’ by the response to its latest report.

The government says it is already considering action in many areas.

It has urged the committee to await the outcome of other reports and a consultation on beefed-up powers for the Electoral Commission to regulate digital advertising during elections.

But Collins has accused ministers of making excuses to "further delay desperately needed announcements on the ongoing issues of harmful and misleading content being spread through social media".

When the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee issued its interim report on fake news in July it warned that the UK faced a democratic crisis founded on the manipulation of personal data.

The MPs called for new powers for the Electoral Commission — including bigger fines — and new regulation of social media firms.

But of the 42 recommendations in its interim report, the committee said only three have been accepted by the government, in its official response, published last week.

And some — such as a levy on social media firms to fund digital literacy education and tighter limits on political donations — have been rejected outright.

Commenting on the issue, BBC technology correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones,  said the DCMS Select Committee has been on a long journey with its fake news inquiry, roaming far and wide, and as time has gone on many of the MPs and in particular their chairman have become convinced they have discovered something rotten in the state of British democracy.

As the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, they zeroed in on Facebook's role in the covert targeting of voters — only on Friday they published new information about a pro-Brexit advertising campaign launched by a mysterious organization whose backers are anonymous.

But Collins has consistently pushed for more action to tackle what he sees as the threat from fake news to democracy.

Now he and his colleagues, having recommended a wide program of actions, believe the government has kicked most of it into the long grass.

But they are not giving up — they are promising their final report with more revelations in December.

The committee has backed calls from the Electoral Commission to force social media advertisers to publish an ‘imprint’ on political ads to show who had paid for them, to increase transparency.

The government says it is considering such a move.

One thing the government and the committee do agree on is that ‘fake news’ is a misleading term that has ceased to have any meaning.

The government says it now prefers the term ‘disinformation’, which it defines as "the deliberate creation and sharing of false and/or manipulated information that is intended to deceive and mislead audiences, either for the purposes of causing harm, or for political, personal or financial gain".



Resource: BBC
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