MPs threaten social media giants with sanctions in 'fake news' inquiry

Posted On: 
29th December 2017

MPs have threatened Facebook and Twitter with sanctions unless they hand over information as part of an inquiry into Russian ‘fake news’. 

Social media giants Facebook and Twitter have been urged to present evidence to a Commons inquiry on fake news
Credit: 
PA

Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Damian Collins, has issued the social media giants with an 18 January deadline to provide evidence on Russian meddling in the EU referendum campaign.   

He said: “There has to be a way of scrutinising the procedures that companies like Facebook put in place to help them identify known sources of disinformation, particularly when it’s politically motivated and coming from another country.

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“They need to be able to tell us what they can do about it. And what we need to be able to do is say to the companies: we recognise that you are best placed to monitor what is going on your own site and to get the balance right in taking action against it but also safeguarding the privacy of users.

“But what there has to be then is some mechanism of saying: if you fail to do that, if you ignore requests to act, if you fail to police the site effectively and deal with highly problematic content, then there has to be some sort of sanction against you.”

The Culture Media and Sport Committee has called for the evidence as part of an inquiry looking at the impact of 'fake news' on public life.  

The intervention signals wider frustration among MPs over the role social media companies play in policing the content on their platforms.

Earlier this month Mr Collins wrote to Twitter rebuking them over their alleged lack of engagement with the inquiry.

“The information you have now shared with us is completely inadequate,” he said.  

“It seems odd that so far we have received more information about activities that have taken place on your platform from journalists and academics than from you.”