View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

Prime Minister announces rapid response unit to tackle ‘fake news’

By Pavlena Todorova

The Prime Minister is to launch a rapid response unit to battle the proliferation of “fake news” online, it has been announced.

Officially named the National Security Communications Unit, it will be tasked with deterring adversaries and combating misinformation spread by state actors, Press Gazette understands.

The unit is also expected to monitor social media platforms and will be based in the Cabinet Office, according to Alex Aiken, executive director of the Government Communication Service (GCS).

Aiken said in an interview with PR Week that the civil service needed to “build a rapid response social media capability to deal quickly with disinformation and reclaim a fact-based public debate”.

Theresa May will authorise the creation of the unit, according to The Times. It also reported that insiders doubt that Whitehall could operate quickly enough to disrupt social media rumours.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “The Government is committed to tackling false information and the Government Communications Service plays a crucial role in this.

“Digital communications is constantly evolving and we are looking at ways to meet the challenging media landscape by harnessing the power of new technology for good.”

Content from our partners
Pugpig named best media technology partner of 2024 by AOP
Cannes Lions: The world's best creativity all in one place
L'Equipe signs content syndication deal with The Content Exchange

Social media platforms, including the likes of Facebook and Twitter, have come under increased scrutiny in recent months amid concerns about Russian-backed interference in US and UK politics.

The UK’s fake news inquiry, being carried out by the Departure for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee has asked both social media platforms for details about potential foreign interference in the Brexit vote.

Facebook has said it will expand its investigation into whether Russian agents attempted to influence the EU Referendum vote.

The Government was forced to defend itself last year after fake news surfaced online claiming that the Tories had voted that animals are not sentient beings and so did not feel pain. This was in fact false.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson is expected to give a statement to Parliament later this week laying out further details about new unit.

Picture: Channel 4

Topics in this article : ,

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network