Government launches anti-fake news unit to tackle disinformation

Prime Minister Theresa May takes aim at misinformation as part of a new national security drive. Announcing a new anti-fake news unit, the government hopes to extinguish the growing volumes of untrue stories flooding the internet and having a negative impact on society

by the commentator on 24 January 2018 10:25

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The UK government declared war on the phenomenon of ‘fake news’ last night, with the announcement of a specialist unit designed to tackle its spread via the internet and protect the public from sophisticated misinformation schemes on social media. 

Leading politicians and think tanks are said to have become alarmed at the high numbers of untrue stories being shared extensively and read online.

The new fake news unit was agreed at a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC).

A spokesman from Downing Street told reporters, "The government will respond with more and better use of national security communications to tackle these interconnected complex challenges.

"We will build on existing capabilities by creating a dedicated national security communications unit. This will be tasked with combating disinformation by state actors and others. It will more systematically deter our adversaries and help us deliver on national security priorities."

Experts warned that more needed to be done to protect the public from misinformation.

Rachel Neaman, CEO of the Corsham Institute, which campaigns for greater awareness of the threat of fake news said, “The rising tide of fake news, spread through social media and online channels, poses a growing risk to democracy and our national security.”

She continued, “This new initiative demonstrates that the government is taking this threat seriously, but much more needs to be done to tackle disinformation online.

At Corsham Institute we fully support this move from government. We gave evidence to the DCMS Select Committee on Fake News and are working to support people to distinguish fact from fiction. We want to see more public awareness campaigns, better education in schools and more vigilance from the social media channels themselves where these stories appear.

Fake news and disinformation designed to undermine and manipulate has no place in a democratic society. It must be identified, exposed and erased as an urgent priority.”

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