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On 11 January 2018, the House of Lords is scheduled to debate a motion moved by Baroness Kidron (Crossbench) on the “role played by social media and online platforms as news and content publishers”.

This short briefing considers some of the issues that have arisen as part of the debate on this subject in recent months. These include, but are not limited to, the role of social media and online platforms as disseminators of inaccurate or misleading information (widely referred to as ‘fake news’); the use of such applications by state and non-state actors to influence conflict narratives, sometimes through the posting of illegal content; the role of these networks in preventing online bullying and harassment; and the responsibility held by such platforms when copyrighted content is inappropriately uploaded and shared via their services. Potential responses to these challenges—including government-led and industry-led activity—are then briefly considered. A selection of recommended reading is identified at the end of the briefing for further information on this multi-faceted subject.


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