Ofcom calls for Facebook and Google to be independently regulated over fake news

Facebook and Google should be subject to independent regulation to tackle the spread of misleading information online, the head of the UK's communications regulator has argued.

Ofcom CEO Sharon White has written in The Times that tech giants need to be more accountable if they fail to stop fake news and dangerous material being spread on their platforms.

It is the first time that Ofcom has backed calls for regulation of Facebook and Google, which are not subject to the same rules as broadcasters and newspapers because they claim to be platforms rather than publishers.

White did not provide details about how the platforms should be regulated, but said the regulator was planning to do set out "further thoughts" in the Autumn.

"We welcome emerging actions by the major online players, but consider that the argument for independent regulatory oversight of their activities has never been stronger," Write wrote.

"Such a regime would need to be based on transparency, and a set of clear underpinning principles. In practice, this would place much greater scrutiny on how effectively the online platforms respond to harmful content to protect consumers, with powers for a regulator to enforce standards, and act if these are not met."

Meanwhile, the UK Government is expected to set out new restrictions in a white paper on internet safety later this year.

White’s comments come alongside research published by Ofcom today that shows people in the UK feel overwhelmed by the volume of content they see on social media; Scrolling news: The changing face of online news consumption and The Changing World of News: Qualitative Research.

A version of this story originally appeared on PRWeek sister title Campaign.

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