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Ministers urged to investigate Google and Facebook over fake news

Ashley-Highfield2-e1401302531277Industry body the News Media Association has called on the government to investigate the impact of digital giants Google and Facebook in its inquiry into fake news.

The NMA wants the government to look at the digital advertising supply chain which it says has led to many advertisers inadvertently having their ads appear on fake news websites.

In its submission to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s inquiry into fake news, the NMA called for an urgent investigation into the growth of programmatic advertising, which it says has resulted in a “chronic lack of transparency with advertisers”.

The organisation added the term ‘fake news’ has been seized on by politicians and anti-press lobby groups in the UK and abroad with an agenda to silence the press and shut down debate on important issues, posing a greater threat to freedom of speech, an informed electorate and democracy than fake news itself.

NMA chairman Ashley Highfield, pictured above left, said: “News media publishers are by far the biggest investors in original news content, accounting for 58pc of the total UK investment, but the digital supply chain rewards the distributors of content, not the originators.

“Government and regulators cannot ignore forever the impact of the Google-Facebook duopoly on our media landscape.

“The committee’s inquiry is a timely opportunity to concentrate minds on the immense value to society and democracy of genuine news, but it is also necessary to ensure the very people the press holds to account – those in authority – don’t cry ‘fake news’ when they simply disagree with a story or don’t like a headline.”

Ashley added: “The system works very well for fake news operators – and very badly for real news publishers. The fake news operators are not journalists in any meaningful sense, they act without regard for accuracy or defamation to invent content sensational enough to harness the full potential of the Facebook or Google algorithms.”

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  • March 9, 2017 at 7:31 am

    “….not journalists in any meaningful sense, they act without regard for accuracy .,.,”

    No real editors any more
    Staffing levels cut back to breaking point
    juniors armed with camera phones
    Subs no longer deemed necessary
    Office closures and moves out of the local community
    copy sales shot to pieces
    Yep, accurate picture Ash

    Welcome to regional publishing in 2017

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