'Britain has a right to know if fake news influenced the Brexit referendum' says Damian Collins MP

'We have a right to know if there was interference from fake news in EU referendum and election' says Damian Collins MP

The Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee spoke to Julia Hartley-Brewer about his letter to Mark Zuckerberg

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee has said Britain has a "right to know" if recent elections and referenda have been influenced by fake news.

MPs on the committee have asked for Facebook to provide any evidence of activity used by Russian accounts to spread fake news in the run-up to 2016's EU referendum and the 2017 General Election. 

A letter addressed to the social network's founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has asked for any information pertaining to adverts bought by Russia-linked accounts, how they were targeted, the money paid, and how frequently they were seen. ​

Damian Collins, the MP for Folkestone and Hythe, told Julia Hartley-Brewer why the committee had contacted Facebook. 

He said: "As part of our inquiry, I think it’s reasonable we should ask Facebook for information they can get from within their company that was there similar activity, either around the recent election or the referendum.

"We’ve also been interested in an inquiry the US congress has been running looking at this very issue, where they’d received information from Facebook showing how Russian-backed organisations used paid-for advertising on Facebook to influence debate around the US presidential election last year.

"We also know from a separate study the company did looking at the French election that there was interference there, deleting 35,000 accounts linked to the spreading of disinformation around the build-up to the vote. 

"We have a right to know if the same sort of suspicious activity took place in the UK from organisations backed by a different country. I think it’s important."

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