British Intelligence Pressures Social Media Sites to Crack Down on Fake News

The 24 hour Ops room inside GCHQ, Cheltenham. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday November, 17, 2015. See PA story POLICE Paris Cyber. Photo credit should read: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Ben Birchall/PA Wire

The UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), a British intelligence and security organization, recently stated that social networks such as Twitter and Facebook need to do more to combat “fake news.”

The Guardian reports that Paul Chichester, the Director for Operations at the GCHQ-controlled National Cyber Security Centre, stated that social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook must own up to their “social responsibility” and help to censor lies and misinformation spread on the platform.  “We don’t own those platforms,” said Chichester, “we don’t run them, the industry does. It’s really important that they do recognize they carry some social responsibility.”

“Technology companies, they’re huge global companies with responsibilities of nation states sometimes to tackle some of these problems,” said Chichester. Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre, which opened on February 14th, has stated that the safety and security of the British electoral democratic systems is a top priority following the hacking of the American DNC last year.

Facebook has already begun flagging “fake news” with a tag that reads “disputed” however many have called for the company to take a stronger stance against misinformation, including the EU’s digital chief, Andrus Ansip. He threatened the company with action from Brussels if the issue of “fake news” was not treated in a serious manner.

When asked if he believed that social media companies could be doing more to combat misinformation on their platforms, Chichester said, “I think so. It’s an emerging threat that we’re all grappling with. It’s not just a challenge for government. I think you can see some of the social media companies already looking at tackling some of that.”

“I think perhaps they feel they’ve been exploited” said Chichester, “and they’re looking to tackle that as well. Actually, I think it currently looks like an area we can collaborate and work together with industry to tackle this.” Chichester also spoke about the recent WikiLeaks CIA data dump at a cyber security conference in Liverpool called Cyber UK.

“For us any leak of data, or any leak of vulnerabilities, in an uncontrolled way, whoever does it doesn’t help the security industry. We believe in responsible disclosure. We believe in if you understand vulnerabilities you have ways to disclose them responsibly. I wouldn’t in any way shape or form endorse the mass leaking of anything like that.” said Chichester, “Cybercriminals will always be looking for new techniques. They’ll certainly be keen to look at how they can use them. Any time when somebody discloses potentially new ways of attacking systems then the criminals are going to be really keen to weaponise them before people have had a chance to fix them.”

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan_ or email him at



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