Fake news inquiry: Facebook, Twitter face sanctions in Britain

London, Dec 29 (IANS) Facebook and Twitter have been warned of sanctions if they fail to provide all the necessary information to a British Parliamentary committee investigating Russian interference in the EU referendum through spread of the so called “fake news” on the social networking platforms, a media report said.

The social media giants have time until January 18 to hand over information the committee has requested, The Telegraph reported on Thursday.

If they fail to comply, the committee will consider sanctions that could be imposed, such as encouraging the advertising industry to withdraw business on “ethical” grounds, said Damian Collins, Chair of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport ( DCMS) select committee, which is conducting the “fake news” inquiry.

There are allegations that during the EU referendum campaign, Facebook and Twitter platforms were used by the Russians to spread false information.

Therefore, the DCMS committee has asked the companies for details of the accounts and pages operated by Russians suspected of meddling.

“There has to be a way of scrutinising the procedures that companies like Facebook put in place to help them identify known sources of disinformation, particularly when it’s politically motivated and coming from another country,” Collins told The Guardian.

“But what there has to be then is some mechanism of saying: if you fail to do that, if you ignore requests to act, if you fail to police the site effectively and deal with highly problematic content, then there has to be some sort of sanction against you,” Collins added.