Social media platforms have stated that they are launching a campaign to tackle issues of misinformation in a build-up to the next month's general election in the United Kingdom. The social media giant is going to establish a war room to initiate quick responses to election hoaxes, Twitter is enforcing a ban on political ads on its website and tech giant Google is planning to bring down bogus videos on Youtube.
According to reports, experts on the subject of digital information are of the opinion that British voters would still be vulnerable to the same types of misleading advertisements and bogus claims that had a role in the vote for the UK to leave the European Union.
Governments' inaction on the topic of online information and the digital ad regulations has put the companies in a tricky situation as they have been subject to intense criticism for exaggerating false claims during the build-up to the 2016 Brexit referendum and the 2016 US Presidential elections.
A video of a television interview was posted on Twitter and Facebook by the conservative party that was edited in a misleading way with a senior member of the Labor Party. The video was doctored in such a way that it showed the senior official failing to answer a question about Brexit whereas, in reality, he had immediately responded to the question.
However, the head of the Conservative Party called the fabricated video a lighthearted stunt but Will Moy, chief executive at Full Fact, an independent, London-based fact-checking organization, stated that the video was a part of a serious problem for the British voters. He further added that the biggest problem for the voters was to be lied by their own politicians.
According to reports, a debate regarding the 2016 Brexit vote was driven forward by numerous false claims. These false claims mentioned promises that the UK could recoup a total of £350 million every week by leaving the European Union, a bogus claim that a survey found was believed by nearly half of the British citizens.
According to reports, Facebook has the biggest social media influence in the UK with a base of 42 million users and also it has been subject to intense criticism for having a role in spreading wrong information ahead of the 2016 Brexit vote. In 2018, the company started to require political ads in Britain to carry a disclaimer alongside explaining who paid for it. These political ads are stored in a database that includes information such as the age of people targeted by the advertisements and how much money was spent on it. However, the representatives of Facebook stated that they understood the risks and took the threat of false information very seriously.
Also, the upcoming UK general election will be among the first events to take place since Twitter's new policy of restricting political advertisements that are paid, a ban that will take effect from November 22 and in response to this, Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, said that political messages are something that needs to earned and not bought.
Also, Twitter's policy of prohibiting the paid political advertisements is in stark contrast to Facebook's policy of not fact-checking advertisements from politicians and allowing false advertisements to remain on the social media website.
(With inputs from agencies)