NEWS17 July 2018

Social media companies publishing news should face regulation, says Ofcom

Media News Public Sector Technology UK

UK – Social media websites publishing news should be regulated, Ofcom chief executive Sharon White has said.

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With online platforms fundamentally redefining the way people consume news, there is a need for tech companies to be held to account or face regulation, according to White. 

Writing in the Times on Friday ( 13 July), she said: “Online companies need to be much more accountable when it comes to curating and policing the content on their platforms, where this risks harm to the public.”

Social media companies such as Facebook and Google have been under increased scrutiny in recent years for the spread of misinformation and fake news.

Citing research by Ofcom which found that only 39% of people consider social media a trustworthy news source, compared to 63% for newspapers and 70% for TV, White argued that the responsibility for detecting harmful content should not lie with the public but with regulators.

“Many people admit they simply don’t have the time or inclination to think critically when engaging with news, which has important implications for our democracy.

 “We welcome emerging actions by the major online players, but consider that the argument for independent regulatory oversight of their activities has never been stronger,” she said.

Any such system of independent regulation would need to be transparent and be underpinned by a clear set of principles, but would ultimately lead to greater scrutiny on social media companies to protect consumers from harmful content such as fake news, according to White.