Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has said journalists should join up to help defend the country against the spread of disinformation and foreign state propaganda.
Williamson told The House, Parliament’s own magazine, in an interview to be published later this week that journalists, as well as IT and cyber security specialists, have skills that “are more relevant today than anything else”.
According to Politics Home, the Tory MP said: “Britain’s enemies will use Twitter, will use every angle they can do to change the narrative- people who’ve traditionally thought about joining reserve forces, we want them to come in – but actually, it’s looking to different people who maybe think, as a journalist, well what are my skills in terms of how are they relevant to the Armed Forces?
“Actually, they are more relevant today than anything else, having those skills, whether it be journalists, those people with amazing cyber and IT skills, those people with the ability to really understand about getting messages across.
“Warfare is evolving so much and it’s about trying to get a different generation, a different type of people to start thinking: ‘I’ve got something to add to my reserve forces.’”
Williamson said he is looking for recruits who “really understand about getting messages across” and can help stem the spread of fake news “in this disinformation age”.
Williamson previously compared Russian bots, which spread fake news online, to Nazi propagandists, saying: “We have to make sure that narrative is countered.”
Williamson’s plea follows a National Audit Office report that found the number of British military personnel was currently at 5.7 per cent below requirement, which the NAO said was “the largest gap for a decade”.
A parliamentary inquiry into fake news is currently being led by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
Picture, Reuters/Hannah McKay