Fake News and the Gatekeepers of Truth

Malik, Kenan

Publisher:  Kenan Malik
Date Written:  11/02/2018
Year Published:  2018  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX21987

A look at misinformation or 'fake news' and how it has changed from the past; while only governments and prominent figures could once manipulate public opinion, today it is anyone with online access.



Before Facebook, there was the coffee house. In the 17th-century, panic gripped British royal circles that these newly established drinking salons had become forums for political dissent. In 1672, Charles II issued a proclamation ‘to restrain the Spreading of False News' that was helping 'to nourish an universal Jealousie and Dissatisfaction in the minds of all His Majesties good subjects'.

Now, 350 years on, legislators across the world are seeking to do the same. Last week, the House of Commons digital culture, media and sport committee flew to Washington DC to grill representatives of big tech companies, including Facebook, Twitter and Google. The title of their session echoed Charles II: 'How can social media platforms help stop the spread of fake news?'
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