Linking the phenomenon to the electoral victory of Donald Trump, a group of influential MPs have launched an investigation into ‘fake news’ as a “threat to democracy”.
The goal of the inquiry, launched on Monday by the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, is to identify those it believes most likely to be misled by the phenomena of ‘fake news’ and set an industry-standard definition of the term.
The inquiry will also look into the role of social media companies and search engines such as Google, Twitter, and Facebook with regards to fake news, with parliament’s website appearing to frame the issue as a matter of child protection.
“What responsibilities do search engines and social media platforms have, particularly those which are accessible to young people? Is it viable to use computer-generated algorithms to root out ‘fake news’ from genuine reporting?”, the Committee website reads.
It states “rising concerns” that the British public have increasingly come to “distrust traditional sources of news, such as newspapers and broadcasters, and instead to turn to the internet and social media”.
Also suggested on the government’s website on the topic of the inquiry is that last fake news was responsible for the result of last year’s U.S. presidential election, in which the victory of Donald J. Trump has been widely portrayed as the rejection of a global elite by the people.
“The fear that this might lead the public being fed propaganda and untruths [sic] has been increased by the suggestions that electors in the 2016 US presidential election were subjected to possibly unprecedented amounts of ‘fake news’, and concerns that this may have had a significant impact on democratic processes,” the site states.
Conservative MP Damian Collins, chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said: “The growing phenomenon of fake news is a threat to democracy and undermines confidence in the media in general.
“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. Consumers should also be given new tools to help them assess the origin and likely veracity of news stories they read online.
“The committee will be investigating these issues, as well as looking into the sources of fake news, what motivates people to spread it, and how it has been used around elections and other important political debates.”
Earlier in January, Breitbart London reported that Britain’s state broadcaster, the BBC, is setting up a dedicated ‘fact-checking team’, which they say will work to debunk ‘fake news’ that’s being frequently shared on social media.
The BBC frames itself and its output as politically impartial but is often accused of promoting a left wing and liberal worldview.
In October, MPs on both sides of the house wrote to BBC bosses in protest after research was released showing that the corporation’s coverage surrounding Britain’s referendum on European Union membership on BBC Radio 4 was heavily biased against Leave.