This is getting embarrassing. Reuters is reporting that British Prime Minister Theresa May just announced that the UK is setting up a rapid response unit to combat fake news and disinformation from foreign actors in an attempt to corral future threats to outside interference in future British elections. And not by just complaining about it, but by taking the bull by the horns. According to the announcement;
“We are living in an era of fake news and competing narratives,” May’s spokesman told reporters. “The government will respond with more and better use of national security communications to tackle these interconnected complex challenges.”
He added: “We will build on existing capabilities by creating a dedicated national security communications unit. This will be tasked with combating disinformation by state actors and others. It will more systematically deter our adversaries and help us deliver on national security priorities.”
And Great Britain isn’t the only one trying to put the genie back into the bottle. Earlier this month French President Emmanuel Macron announced that the government is overhauling and updating domestic media legislation to fight the scourge of Russian and other foreign bots and trumped up stories from getting into the public domain.
Look, this ain’t all that complicated. Basically these governments are telling social media giants like Facebook and Twitter that if they can’t keep their playpens clean, the government will show them how to pick up their toys. The social media giants are going to scream bloody murder, but they’re not really going to have much choice, they’re going to have to play ball. The social media outlets love playing the part of McCauley Culkin in “Home Alone,” the last thing they want is for Mom and Dad to walk back in the door and tell them to go to bed. And forget about government regulations for a moment. Social media giants thrive on their reputations, there’s not much worse for them than having the government coming out with weekly, or even daily public notices slamming them for brokering in palsied information. Studies show that more and more people every day use social media as their primary source for news information. Forget their followers, it’s the pocketbook they’ll get hit in when advertisers start to flee their sites rather than be associated with anti democratic fake news. Believe me, they’ll find a solution, and they’ll find it quickly.
This should be a no brainer for Trump. After all, “fake news” are his two most favorite words in the world, topping even “porn star” and “dollar bills.” The problem is that Trump’s definition of “fake news” is legitimate news outlets that report honestly on his shenanigans, and not Russian bots and Macedonian manipulators. And if anybody thinks that the social media giants are going to just voluntarily give up their illegitimate financial gains by putting the same restraints that they’re going to have to put into place in Europe over to their US operations, they’re out of their minds. So far, I haven’t heard a word about this on either MSNBC or CNN so far today, and God knows FOX would rather die in harness than utter a word about it. It’s time for a little public shaming. This needs to get out nationally, and keep getting out until the liar in a frock behind the White House podium has to answer for it. And interviews with cowardly congress critters should include this question every time. This shouldn’t have to be this hard.