News Brief

Changing the Rules around Fake News

A report conducted by the UK Parliament has called for the implementation of tough new laws that will restrict and hold social media companies responsible for “harmful and illegal content on their platforms,” especially when it may curtail democracy.

The British Parliament’s Digital, Media, Sports and Culture committee made its recommendations after spending more than a year investigating the effects of fake news on Brexit, the data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica and Russian interference in UK politics.

If the recommendations are adopted, it will greatly impact social media companies like Facebook and Twitter. Changes could lead to restrictions on political donations, to the creation of social media regulatory agencies, and to fines drawn from a percentage of total company revenue.

The move would also force these companies to report on the ways in which they generate profits and the political advertising they accept, according to CNN.

Investigating bodies both in the UK and the U.S. have grown frustrated with Facebook in particular for what they allege is its reluctance to adopt preventive measures against disinformation. Facebook has responded by acknowledging such investigations as greatly important and promising its commitment to transparency.

The committee also recommends that the British government refrain from using the term “fake news,” as the term has been co-opted by opposing parties in ways that benefit them most. Instead, the committee urges the use of the terms “misinformation” and “disinformation.”

The committee has been in close contact with American counterparts in Congress who are investigating the role of disinformation and fake news in the 2016 presidential election.

The final draft of the report is set to be published in the fall.