Fake news: BBC and tech firms join forces to fight disinformation

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Media captionWhat is so-called “fake news” and how do you spot it? (From 2018)

Plans to help tackle so-called “fake news” have been announced by the BBC and some of the biggest names in journalism and technology.

The new measures include an early warning system for use during elections or when lives may be at risk, extra online education and improved access to impartial resources for voters.

Major publishers, Google, Twitter and Facebook have helped devise the scheme.

The BBC said the moves were “crucial steps” in fighting disinformation.

It follows criticism of big technology firms for failing to do enough to prevent the spread of “false news” – from scares about vaccines to stories manufactured to influence elections.

Other recent events such as this year’s Indian elections have also highlighted the dangers of disinformation and the risk it poses to democracy.

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Media captionDamian Collins, the committee’s chairman, says “sophisticated” fake news is causing a “crisis for democracy”

Earlier this summer, the BBC convened a Trusted News Summit, bringing together senior figures from major global technology firms and publishing to help tackle the problem.

The group drew-up new plans including:

  • Early warning system: creating a system so that organisations can alert each other rapidly when they discover disinformation that threatens human life or disrupts democracy during elections. The emphasis will be on moving quickly and collectively to undermine disinformation before it can take hold.
  • Media education: a joint online media education campaign to support and promote media education messages.
  • Voter information: co-operation on civic information around elections, so there is a common way to explain how and where to vote.
  • Shared learning:  particularly around high-profile elections.

BBC Director General Tony Hall said: “Disinformation and so-called fake news is a threat to us all. At its worst, it can present a serious threat to democracy and even to people’s lives.

“This summit has shown a determination to take collective action to fight this problem and we have agreed some crucial steps towards this.”

Further details will be released at a later date.

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