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MPs question delay in Government action to tackle spread of disinformation on coronavirus

17 March 2020

The DCMS Sub-committee on Online Harms and Disinformation is asking for an explanation about why it has taken the Government two months to set up a unit to counter the spread of disinformation about coronavirus.

MPs are also asking for reassurances that staff working for the Counter Disinformation Unit have the expertise required in tackling both disinformation and misinformation online.

In the letter to DCMS Secretary of State Oliver Dowden, MPs express concern that false narratives could undermine ongoing efforts by Government and public health organisations to deal with coronavirus.

Chair's comments

DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP said:

“We've known since January about deliberate attempts to spread fear and falsehoods on social media about coronavirus, with potentially serious outcomes.

“We support the Government's decision to tackle disinformation and misinformation about Covid -19 at this critical time but question why it has taken so long for ministers to set this up.

“We want reassurance that the Counter Disinformation Unit will be working closely with social media companies to ensure that people receive vitally important and accurate information and can trust what they see online.”

Further information

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