The Liberal Democrats have passed a motion urging the Government to step up and tackle the spread of fake news and misinformation, especially in light of the coronavirus crisis.
The motion, passed at the Party’s Autumn conference, also calls on the Government to improve its transparency with Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper demanding Ministers “get their own house in order”.
The proposals agreed by conference include:
- Government to introduce stricter regulations for social media companies such as issuing fact-checked corrections to scientifically inaccurate posts, as well as amending their algorithms to de-promote misinformation and ‘fake news’
- The Leveson model of co-regulation for publishers to be extended to all platforms which allow comment from both paid and unpaid contributors.
- Mandating the Chair of the UK Statistics Authority to provide regular proactive comment on the presentation of official statistics by Government during COBR level crises.
- The UK’s political journalists to host regular press conferences where they choose which members of the government, or bodies and individuals of nationwide political importance appear, and to invite and determine which journalists and outlets ask questions, using the model of the German Bundespressekonferenz.
Following the debate, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper, said: “The dramatic rise in fake news and conspiracy theories has gone unchecked for too long. However, the pandemic has driven home how vitally important it is for the public to be able to trust the information they are getting from the Government, as well as via social media.
“To tackle misinformation Ministers must extend the Leveson model of co-regulation for publishers to all social media platforms, as well as ensuring social media companies are forced to issue fact-checked corrections to any scientifically inaccurate posts.
“However, it is also crucial the Government get their own house in order. Throughout this crisis, Ministers have misused and manipulated figures as a figleaf for missing their own targets, and the Prime Minister’s shameless defence of Dominic Cummings shattered public trust.
“The Government’s decision making, and particularly the scientific evidence behind it, must become much more transparent if we are to increase the public’s trust in politics and politicians. To ensure the response to this pandemic and future crises are as effective as possible, the Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to take these new policies incredibly seriously.”