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Montevideo, November 16th 2018 - 01:16 UTC

Labour and BBC warn on risks of being infected by contagion of fake news stories

Saturday, January 14th 2017 - 09:36 UTC
Full article 24 comments
 Trump dismissed a dossier containing claims about his private life and relationship with Russia as a “disgrace” and described Buzzfeed as a “failing pile of garbage”. Trump dismissed a dossier containing claims about his private life and relationship with Russia as a “disgrace” and described Buzzfeed as a “failing pile of garbage”.
BBC's director of news and current affairs James Harding said the organisation had a duty to call out “deliberately misleading stories masquerading as news”. BBC's director of news and current affairs James Harding said the organisation had a duty to call out “deliberately misleading stories masquerading as news”.
MP Michael Dugher said news outlets everywhere had a duty to scrutinise politicians on the basis of “truth and reality” not “click-bait nonsense”. MP Michael Dugher said news outlets everywhere had a duty to scrutinise politicians on the basis of “truth and reality” not “click-bait nonsense”.

British politics risks being “infected by the contagion” of fake news stories, a senior Labour MP has said. Michael Dugher said the problem was not confined to the US and news outlets everywhere had a duty to scrutinise politicians on the basis of “truth and reality” not “click-bait nonsense”.

 Labour, he said, must be “vigilant” to the threat of false information coming from the left as well as the right. It comes amid a row over the release of unverified claims about Donald Trump.

The US President-elect has dismissed a dossier containing claims about his private life and relationship with Russia as a “disgrace” and described Buzzfeed - which published the document in full - as a “failing pile of garbage”.

Buzzfeed has acknowledged the allegations were unverified and potentially unverifiable but justified its reporting, saying the claims had “circulated at the highest levels of government” and the public should make up their minds about their veracity.

Mr Trump also attacked CNN, which reported that intelligence chiefs had presented a synopsis of the dossier - said to have been compiled by a former British Secret Service agent - to President Barack Obama.

The phenomenon of fake news - which came to the fore during the US presidential election - has triggered a debate about journalistic ethics in the US.

Mr Dugher, a former shadow culture secretary, said it was an issue that British journalists - whether they work for social media, campaigning websites or more traditional news outlets - could not ignore.

“The global scale of the problem with fake news is clear,” he told the Guardian.

“Even someone with views as grimly unpalatable as Trump deserves to be scrutinised on the basis of truth and reality - not on fake news.”

Mr Dugher has been asked by deputy leader Tom Watson to examine the changing way that news is consumed and shared online and at the “practical, political and ethical issues” raised by fake news - with a report due in the spring.

He suggested the dominance of tech giants like Facebook and Google over the dissemination of information online was as big a challenge to media plurality as the power of established broadcasters and newspaper publishers on other platforms.

But he said there was also a duty on “mainstream” news providers not to fan the flames of the problem and resist the temptation to publish sensational but unverified material in a “voracious quest for web traffic”.

He added: “We in the Labour Party, who have so often been on the wrong side of misrepresentations and unfair attacks from the right wing media, also have a responsibility to be vigilant and reject fake news material on social media and elsewhere - even if it purports to come from the left.”

Speaking on Thursday, the BBC's director of news and current affairs James Harding said the organisation had a duty to call out “deliberately misleading stories masquerading as news”.

He said the BBC would be expanding its Reality Check service dedicated to scrutinising the statistics and arguments used by parties and interest groups.

“The BBC can't edit the internet, but we won't stand aside either,” he said. “We will fact check the most popular outliers on Facebook, Instagram and other social media. We are working with Facebook, in particular, to see how we can be most effective.”

Top Comments

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  • Englander

    The standard of reporting is really poor these days.
    Too often we get fed opinion dressed up as fact.
    The BBC has been going down hill for a number of years.
    Even so it is still better than the appalling RT.

    Jan 15th, 2017 - 09:27 pm +3
  • Paragon

    Getting back to the original allegation
    The mainstream media’s extreme enthusiasm for the Hitler Diaries shows their rush to embrace any forgery if it is big and astonishing enough. For the Guardian to lead with such an obvious forgery as the Trump “commercial intelligence reports” is the final evidence of the demise of that newspaper’s journalistic values.
    We are now told that the reports were written by Mr Christopher Steele, an ex-MI6 man, for Orbis Business Intelligence. Here are a short list of six impossible things we are asked to believe before breakfast:
    1) Vladimir Putin had a five year (later stated as eight year) plan to run Donald Trump as a “Manchurian candidate” for President and Trump was an active and knowing partner in Putin’s scheme.
    2) Hillary Clinton is so stupid and unaware that she held compromising conversations over telephone lines whilst in Russia itself.
    3) Trump’s lawyer/adviser Mr Cohen was so stupid he held meetings in Prague with the hacker/groups themselves in person to arrange payment, along with senior officials of the Russian security services. The NSA, CIA and FBI are so incompetent they did not monitor this meeting, and somehow the NSA failed to pick up on the electronic and telephone communications involved in organising it. Therefore Mr Cohen was never questioned over this alleged and improbable serious criminal activity.
    4) A private company had minute by minute intelligence on the Manchurian Candidate scheme and all the indictable illegal activity that was going on, which the CIA/NSA/GCHQ/MI6 did not have, despite their specific tasking and enormous technical, staff and financial resources amounting between them to over 150,000 staff and the availability of hundreds of billons of dollars to do nothing but this.
    5) A private western company is able to run a state level intelligence operation in Russia for years, continually interviewing senior security sources and people.. ..original article here
    https://www.craigmurray.or

    Jan 15th, 2017 - 08:05 pm +2
  • Paragon

    @ ElaineB
    Never said Trump was clean, but more like fake news
    I look upon a new opportunity for the UK and Russia with the arrival of Trump, but only time will tell. most US presidents rarely full fill their election promises Obama being a good example recently
    The article in question was written by Craig Murry ex British Ambassador and career Diplomat
    Read the full article https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2017/01/hitler-diaries-mark-ii-hope-changed-mattress/

    Jan 15th, 2017 - 08:39 pm +2
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