MPs Launch "Fake News" Inquiry

By Gary Cutlack on at

Parliament is launching a serious inquiry into the world of fake news, with a Culture, Media and Sport Committee set to examine whether or not making stuff up for clicks and likes is really having any tangible effect on society.

The committee will look at the sources of fake news, examine how it spreads and look at the impact it has on the opinions of the people. It will also examine whether the ad-funded model used by the mega publishers is helping fictional and exaggerated stories to spread, with the clicks generated by the more outrageous lies that pop up online perhaps to blame for some of the misinformation.

The use of algorithms and the responsibility of search engines to filter out the truth -- or not -- is also to be examined. Lots of grey old men in suits are about to find themselves on a very steep learning curve, basically.

Committee chair Damian Collins MP seems to have his mind made up already, saying: "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." [Commons Select Committee]

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