As the implications of fake news dominate discussions surrounding the recent US presidential election, UK politics could also be severely affected, according to Channel 4’s chief marketing officer Dan Brooke.
The severity of fake news has come to the forefront recently as a result of social media platforms like Facebook failing to curb the spread of false reports before they seep into the publics’ consciousness.
The prominence of the trend has been widely cited as having influenced the result in the presidential election which helped Donald Trump claim victory over Hillary Clinton, through phony stories including a claim that someone was paid $3,500 to disrupt a Trump rally and that Hollywood star Denzel Washington had praised the tycoon.
Concerns are now growing that the problem has become equally serious in the UK.
Channel 4’s chief marketing and communications officer, Dan Brooke, spoke to the Westminster Media forum today (13 December) and voiced his concern that unless measures were taken quickly fake news could affect the next UK election.
“Fake news does not seem to be quite so rife in the UK, yet the US is often the canary in the coalmine,” said Brooke. “We have more than three years before our next general election, so let’s act now to ensure the same doesn’t happen here.
“Something must be done. So I’ll say to social media players today: with your power comes responsibility. Much … greater … responsibility than you have yet shown. They claim they are technology companies … not media companies … and therefore that the regulation of content is not their responsibility.”
He added: “But, I’m afraid this just isn’t good enough. There is too much at stake.”
Facebook has found itself the subject of widespread criticism over its failure to tackle fake news within the last month and, in response, has begun testing a new tool in a bid to help identify and squash bogus stories by asking readers to rank on a scale of one to five what extent they think a link's headline "uses misleading language."
The social media giant also recently posted a job listing on its corporate site, seeking an experienced news executive to lead its global news partnerships, a move widely seen as a new safeguard against fake news rising to prominence.