Digital Economy Bill - Committee (4th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:45 pm on 8th February 2017.

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Photo of Lord Gordon of Strathblane Lord Gordon of Strathblane Labour 3:45 pm, 8th February 2017

My Lords, I, too, support the amendment. Yesterday, along with many of your Lordships, I attended a meeting with Channel 4 on the subject of fake news. Here we are not talking about opinion, where people can legitimately take one view or another in a democracy, but about things that are demonstrably totally false. Yet there is no mechanism at the moment for screening them out of social media. If in the United States 44% of the population regard Facebook as their primary source of news, there are dangers for democracy.

I do not know whether the noble Lord’s amendment will work. I do not know whether, for example, the companies will regard algorithms as commercially confidential and refuse to release them. I do not know what powers we actually have over these bodies, but it is worth exploring. It would be ridiculous if this massive Bill, which deals very well for the most part with a wide range of subjects, were to leave out the most topical and potentially the most dangerous of all: social media.