Fake news seems to be a “relatively limited” problem in the UK general election so far, according to the head of a fact-checking charity that is helping to keep tabs on the issue.
Full Fact director Will Moy told Press Gazette: “It’s more a case that somebody is wrong on the internet than fake news is in anyway systematically distorting the election.”
But he stressed it was still “early days” ahead of polling day on 8 June.
Full Fact has joined with First Draft, a non-profit coalition of media outlets, human rights groups and technology organisations (part funded by Google’s News Lab initiative), to watch for general election-related fake news in the UK.
A 25-strong team of experts monitors the internet for false claims from an office in central London. Full Fact also checks claims made in party manifestos and leader debates.
Moy said that one of the motives behind the project with First Draft is an attempt to “understand the scale of any fake news problem that exists in the UK”.
So far, there’s been little to trouble the fact checkers online.
“There’s certainly highly partisan memes coming on both sides, but it doesn’t feel like there is a massive influx of completely made-up websites or anything like that,” said Moy.
“I suppose the other observation is that this election hasn’t captured the public’s imagination like the US election. Our eyes are peeled, but this doesn’t feel like what was said about the US election where fake news was rife and some of the most-shared content on the internet.”
The charity director said every election “takes off at some point” and nodded to the TV debates as the moment when the general public typically becomes more engaged in election politics, but admitted he “might be wrong”.
“At the moment the signs are that the problem is probably relatively limited in the UK, but we are keeping watch and we will say what we find out as we find it out,” said Moy.
“It would be nice to think we are a country with high quality sources of information that make fake news hard to support, but I think it’s a bit too soon to say anything as yet.”
Press Gazette analysis of BuzzSumo data showing the most-shared stories on social media using the keyword “general election” also found no examples of fake news within the top 100 results.
Full Fact produced ten tips for spotting fake news that were published by Facebook on the social media platform for the benefit of its users.
Picture: Channel 4