World Bulletin / News Desk
"There are many potential threats to our democracy and our values. One such threat arises from what has been coined 'fake news', created for profit or other gain, disseminated through state-sponsored programmes, or spread through the deliberate distortion of facts, by groups with a particular agenda, including the desire to affect political elections,” said the Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) Committee in its Disinformation and ‘fake news’: Interim Report.
The report was released Sunday, and it focuses on the influence of social media platforms, such as Facebook, and their use of targeted adverts in political campaigns such as the 2016 EU referendum.
"Arguably, more invasive than obviously false information is the relentless targeting of hyper-partisan views, which play to the fears and prejudices of people, in order to in influence their voting plans and their behaviour," the report said.
The report also warned of the crisis the U.K. faces regarding the use and manipulation of data and the targeting of "pernicious views".
It also investigated evidence of Russian state-sponsored attempts at influencing elections in the U.S. and the U.K. through social media as well as unlawful conduct by private companies, such as Cambridge Analytica, and the anti-EU leave campaign groups in their use of social media, funding and, their organization.
The DCMS Committee also called on the government to take urgent action and made a number of recommendations to combat the spread of fake news and misinformation.
The committee has recommended that all political campaign material should include information on the organization that created it, that social networks should be legally responsible for illegal, harmful and misleading information and that the Electoral Commission should impose heavier fines for breaches to electoral law.
"Our democracy is at risk, and now is the time to act, to protect our shared values and the integrity of our democratic institutions," it said.
The House of Commons Committee has said that the report is an interim report and that a further, substantive report will be published in the autumn of 2018.