Collins Issues Election Fake News Warning to Google and Facebook

Damian Collins, chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, has issued a warning to Google and Facebook that they must work to ensure fake news does not interfere with the UK general election.

Speaking to Channel 4 News yesterday, Mr Collins, whose Committee is conducting an inquiry into fake news, said that social media companies must work to help consumers identify what he described as “legitimate” sources of news.

He said: “We have to be very vigilant, we’ve been putting pressure on the social media companies to do more to mark up stories to give consumers more information: Has this story come from an organisation that has proper fact checkers? Are we certain about the source of it? Is this a legitimate source of news or not?

“Looking at what’s happened in America, looking at concerns in Germany we have to be very vigilant and make sure the social media companies, Facebook and Google and the like, are doing their bit to turn off stories, stop stories that are fake going viral.

“It’s about turning off virality and giving better markings for consumers to identify the fake from the real.”

Responding to the CMS Committee’s inquiry into fake news, the industry has warned that Google and Facebook’s dominance of the online advertising market is threatening to undermine high quality journalism.  

The News Media Association made a submission to the inquiry and is now pressing the government and regulators to investigate the damaging market impact of news aggregators on the news media sector’s long-term ability to carry out investigative journalism and fact-checking in an age of fake news.

In its submission, Guardian Media Group said Facebook and Google played a “pivotal role” at the “heart of the news ecosystem” and that this “poses a number of challenges for news organisations,” Press Gazette reported.