Friday, 20 September 2019

Fake news inquiry: Facebook should verify stories

LONDON: Facebook should verify its content to prove to users articles are not fake news, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee chairman has told. It is one of the measures MPs will consider as part of an inquiry into the spread of fake news on the internet which is being launched on Monday. Damian Collins said the big social media platforms had to start taking responsibility for the proliferation of stories that are not true.  The Tory MP suggested the Government could also ask Facebook to investigate where fake news is coming from, seek out the locations of fake news firms and the servers they are using. Mr Collins highlighted the scale of the problem saying that in the last three months of the US election campaign the top fake news stories had more shares than top legitimate stories. Mr Collins made clear it was the big media firms and social media platforms he expected to take action. He said: In Germany where they have an election coming up, the German government has asked Facebook to look at the way that news is shared on Facebook because it is so concerned. Mr Collins added he would like to see verification tags on sources of news on Facebook so people will know the stories are coming from a trusted source. He said: Just as major tech companies have accepted they have a social responsibility to combat piracy online and the illegal sharing of content, they also need to help address the spreading of fake news on social media platforms. There was also a need to educate people in how to spot fake news to help them check the veracity of a story before sharing it with others, he added.

As part of the inquiry by the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, MPs will look at the impact fake news stories have had on specifics events, such as the EU referendum. Some of the top fake news stories of the last year included the Queen threatening to abdicate if Britain voted to leave the EU and the Pope endorsing Donald Trump for President. Children’s entertainer Dave Benson Phillips told Sky News how a fake news report he had died in a car crash had a major impact on his life. He said he hoped the inquiry would result in strong measures to stop the scourge of fake news. Benson Phillips, star of Get Your Own Back, said: A lot of people took it on face value that I had in fact been killed in a car crash. We hadn’t really recognised how big the impact was going to be until we found ourselves going to theatres who said ‘we’ve re-booked your show because we thought you were dead’. Without sounding too emotional about it, it affected me a lot. The person who it affected the most was my mum. She found out the news from a work colleague and was very upset.

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