The BBC is to assemble a team to fact check and debunk deliberately misleading and false stories masquerading as real news.
Amid growing concern among politicians and news organisations about the impact of false information online, news chief James Harding told staff on Thursday that the BBC would be “weighing in on the battle over lies, distortions and exaggerations”.
We in the Labour party, who have so often been on the wrong side of misrepresentation and unfair attacks from the rightwing media, 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. Everyone who wants to see honest and rigorous news reporting, proper fact-checking, investigative journalism and robust political debate also has an interest in fighting fake news. The only people who have anything to fear from this inquiry are those who are deliberately spreading stories they know to be untrue or those who are turning a blind eye to it.
We have a responsibility to stand up for good journalism everywhere. It is an essential part of our free speech and our democracy. The old adage that a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes has never been more true. The growing risks posed to our democracy mean we can no longer ignore the threat from the proliferation of false news stories.
At which point an interesting test. Will these proposed systems actually insist upon killing off fake news?
For example, both Nick Clegg and Peter Mandelson have recently claimed that Brexit means we must impose tariffs upon imports into the UK. Both are, potentially at least, in line for European Union pensions. And the insistence that WTO rules mean we must impose import tariffs is undoubtedly fake news. To the point that the WTO themselves sigh when you call up to check it. What, this lie again?
So, are these two claims things which would be marked as fake news? And if not, why not?