Will Johnny Depp moving to Norwich rumours be a thing of the past? MPs launch an inquiry into fake news
- Credit: PA
A Norwich MP who is a former journalist has welcomed a parliamentary probe into 'fake news' which will be launched today.
Clive Lewis, who worked for the BBC before he was elected, said the proliferation of inaccurate reports presenting itself as news had been 'deeply damaging to the ability of citizens to make truly informed choices about issues'.
The issue has become more high profile after the US election. The campaign saw people linked to Mr Trump share untrue stories on social media which also appeared on search engines.
Last year a spoof website which claimed Hollywood actor Johnny Depp was on the brink of moving to Norfolk was seen by scores of people who welcomed the Pirates of the Caribbean star to the city.
Daily News 11, which admits it is a 'fantasy news site', claimed the 52-year-old had revealed his intentions to swap his Los Angeles lifestyle for the delights of Norfolk. While the story was fiction, more than 600 people commented on it.
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Mr Lewis said: 'As well as being an MP now, I'm a former journalist and member of the National Union of Journalists so I'm taking a great interest in the developing debate on fake news.
'Our formal media here in the UK is not homogeneous and sometimes I am infuriated by some of the points of view that are taken. But I know that's what they are – varieties of opinion. And even people who work for media organisations that I'm deeply sceptical of are trained professionals, with a code of conduct and capable of ultimately being held to account in some formal way.
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'None of this goes for the sources of fake news and its proliferation has proven to be deeply damaging to the ability of citizens to make truly informed choices about important issues.'
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport select committee said there were fears the public was being fed propaganda and untruths as a result of a trend which has seen people shun traditional sources of news and turn to the internet and social media.
Chairman of the committee Damian Collins said: 'Just as major tech companies have accepted they have a social responsibility to combat piracy online and the illegal sharing of content, they also need to help address the spreading of fake news on social media platforms.
'Consumers should also be given new tools to help them assess the origin and likely veracity of news stories they read online.'