PRESS RELEASE published on 07 Sep 2019

New collaboration steps up fight against disinformation

A new industry collaboration to tackle disinformation was announced by the BBC and partners, including the EBU, today. Major news and tech organisations will work together to protect their audiences and users from disinformation, particularly around moments of jeopardy, including elections.

Earlier this summer the BBC convened a ‘Trusted News Summit’, bringing together senior figures from major global technology firms and publishing. Recent events such as the Indian elections have highlighted the dangers of disinformation and the risks it poses to democracy, and have underlined the importance of working together around shared principles.

The BBC’s partners who attended the summit are the EBU, Facebook, Financial Times, First Draft, Google, The Hindu, and The Wall Street Journal. Other partners are AFP, CBC/Radio-Canada, Microsoft, Reuters, The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, and Twitter.

Tony Hall, Director-General of the BBC and EBU President, said:

“Disinformation and so-called fake news is a threat to us all. At its worst, it can present a serious threat to democracy and even to people’s lives.

“This summit has shown a determination to take collective action to fight this problem and we have agreed some crucial steps towards this.”

The summit agreed to work collectively, where appropriate, to agree collaborative actions on various initiatives. The group will publish details of its commitments on these areas at a later date, following consultation. Initiatives include:

  • Early Warning System: creating a system so organisations can alert each other rapidly when they discover disinformation which threatens human life or disrupts democracy during elections. The emphasis will be on moving quickly and collectively to undermine disinformation before it can take hold.
  • Media Education: a joint online media education campaign to support and promote media education messages.
  • Voter Information: co-operation on civic information around elections, so there is a common way to explain how and where to vote.
  • Shared learning:  particularly around high-profile elections.

Everyone involved is committed to ensuring the collaboration is a success. That means it must work in practice as well as in theory. To ensure the approach works and is fast and responsive, we will be conducting “fire drill” tests before we roll out the agreed actions.