9th March 2017

Government urged to tackle social media role in fake news

The News Media Association made the recommendation to stop the spread of fake news.


The NMA has stated that Facebook and Google should help stop the spread and profit-from fake news.

A spokesperson for the NMA said: “Fake news companies find it easier to thrive online than real news companies because they do not have the overheads that professional news-gathering entails.


“These overheads are very difficult to cover in a digital news environment which rewards the distribution of content by internet platforms far more generously than it does those who create it.


“Fake news travels fast on social media, where algorithms connect users to news by second-guessing what the user might like, rather than assessing the quality of the source. As it thrives, it attracts advertisers hungry for audiences in the digital environment.


“Digital programmatic advertising follows these people with their own algorithms that track their ‘clicks’, ‘shares’ and ‘likes’ and place advertising wherever they browse.


“In this way, the commercials of even the most reputable brands and government advertising end up appearing inadvertently on fake news sites and other inappropriate destinations.”


The association has called for an Ofcom inquiry into the role Facebook and Google play in the spread of fake news.


Chairman of the NMA, Ashley Highfied, said: “The Google-Facebook response to fake news is not assuaging concerns that these are media companies who, unlike other media companies, are picking and choosing their responsibilities and choosing the minimum.”


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