Fake news: British newspapers want Google, Facebook probed

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Britain’s newspaper industry has called for an investigation into Google and Facebook’s role in the spread of fake news, media reported.

Amid fears of fake news undermining democracy, a group of cross-party MPs in Britain launched an inquiry into the rise of the phenomenon earlier in 2017.

In a recommendation to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s fake news inquiry, the News Media Association (NMA), which represents national and local publishers, advised the MPs to probe the role of Google and Facebook in the rise of fake news.

The media body said that the digital advertising supply chain which favours fake news and helps it to thrive was “murky at best, fraudulent at worst”, Belfast Telegraph reported on Thursday.

The body called for an “urgent investigation” by regulators such as Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority into its impact on Google and Facebook.

Fake news is more likely to be spread on sites such as Facebook due to an algorithm which measures stories’ worth based on virality, Lucy Gill, legal policy and regulatory affairs adviser at the NMA, was quoted as saying.

In the digital platforms, fake news stories may emerge more profitable than real news in terms of clicks and advertising revenue because they are more likely to go viral.

Fake news “farms” deprive real news publishers of valuable advertising revenue as well as profiting because they do not incur the same costs, including paying professional journalists, the media body suggested.