Counter Disinformation Unit: Social Media

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 19th April 2022.

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Photo of Lucy Powell Lucy Powell Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how many pieces of content the Counter Disinformation Unit has asked social media providers to remove following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

The DCMS-led Counter Disinformation Unit is working to identify and counter Russian disinformation targeted at UK and international audiences. This includes working closely with the major social media platforms to ensure that they are cooperating at speed to swiftly address disinformation and coordinated inauthentic or manipulated behaviour, as per their Terms of Service. Where this content breaches their own Terms of Service, we expect platforms to remove it promptly. We are also ensuring that platforms are promoting authoritative content which accurately depicts the ongoing situation in Ukraine.

It would not be appropriate to provide a running commentary on operational detail which may risk undermining the CDU’s security and effectiveness. Now more than ever the effectiveness of the Unit is paramount as we continue our vital work to protect UK citizens from Russian disinformation.

The Online Safety Bill will force companies to remove illegal mis/disinformation that impacts individuals including state-sponsored mis/disinformation that contains illegal content. However this issue is not just about the content but the platform features, as hostile states take advantage of platform design and features, such as algorithms, to spread their propaganda. To address this, the Bill will require service providers to assess how the design of their services is linked to harm. They will have to look at how their services allow users to forward or share content, or to express views on other users’ content through “likes”, features often utilised by hostile states.

​​The Government is also committed to introducing further legislation to provide our world-class security services and law enforcement agencies with a suite of modern tools they need to tackle a full range of state threats.

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