Julian Knight, Chair of the UK parliament’s DCMS Committee, is supporting actions by the Government to hold social media companies to account for the spread of conspiracy theories about 5G technology helping transmit coronavirus.
MPs are appealing for members of the public to send examples of disinformation in its own inquiry into Disinformation on COVID-19 in work by the DCMS Sub-committee on Online Harms and Disinformation. It has already announced its intention to call in social media companies.
Separately, the DCMS Committee is calling on Ofcom’s new Chief Executive Dame Melanie Dawes to investigate concerns that state-backed international news organisations are disseminating false narratives about COVID-19 through social media to circumvent UK broadcasting regulation.
As part of its work on the forthcoming legislation on Online Harms, the DCMS Committee is calling for a reconsideration of the economic impact caused by online harms being added to the Bill.
“To hear that crackpot theories are leading to people attacking phone masts or threatening telecom workers is sickening and it’s clearly time to act,” declared Knight.
“We’ve called on the Government to work with social media companies to stamp out deliberate attempts to spread fear about COVID-19 and it is right that they are being called to account for allowing disinformation on their platforms.
“We’re also calling on Ofcom to investigate whether international news organisations are using social media to disseminate state-backed disinformation on COVID-19 in order to get around UK broadcasting regulation.”
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