Update: The UK Parliament’s Hearings at GW on Fake News

5 people standing near an elevator listening to a man in a blue suit and striped tie talking to them
Damian Collins chairs the U.K. House of Commons Committee on Digital, Culture, Media and Sports, which held its first hearing on fake news last February at the George Washington University. (Logan Werlinger/GW Today)
February 26, 2019

Last year the UK Parliament reached out to the Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) for help with an unprecedented hearing as part of its investigation on fake news. GSPM and the School of Media and Public Affairs hosted the public evidence session for the committee last winter at GW’s Marvin Center in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony from executives with Twitter, Google, Facebook, YouTube, CNN, The New York Times and other media enterprises on fake news and social media platforms. One year later, members of Britain’s House of Commons continue the conversation at GW.

Damian Collins, chair of the U.K. House of Commons Select Committee on Digital, Culture, Media and Sports, wants Facebook to answer more questions a year after he probed executives of the social media network during hearings held at the George Washington University. In an op-ed published in The New York Times last month, Mr. Collins argued to make tech companies liable for harmful and illegal content posted on their sites and summoned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to appear before the parliament to discuss fake news and data privacy. 

Last year, policy analysts from Google, Twitter and Facebook testified that they would cooperate with British investigators after being pressed about whether their companies would investigate fake news sites that were fronts for Russian agencies or that spread incorrect political information. The committee also heard from scholars, media experts and representatives of traditional news media organizations about how social media has affected news consumption.

Lara Brown, director of the Graduate School of Political Management, helped plan the hearing. She said by holding the hearing at GW the committee was able to take testimony from higher level executives than would otherwise be the case.

Dr. Brown said many people who once were in “awe” of technological advancements have grown wary of their ability to improve quality of life, and that GW would continue its work to shape the narrative around technology and society.

“The most important reality is that the tech companies have a tremendous amount of data about each one of us, and while that information is being used in a variety of ways to sell us a variety of goods there comes a point in time where I think an individual should have some controls over what remains private and what become commoditized,” she said.

Full story in GW Today

Last year's story in GW Today