The British Government is to create a new unit to counter disinformation and “fake news” pushed by foreign powers, a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May has said.
May has previously accused Russia of meddling in elections and its state media of planting fake stories and photo-shopped images in an attempt to undermine western institutions.
Russia denies interfering in foreign elections, including the 2016 Brexit referendum, and the US presidential race in the same year.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the new national security communications unit would build on existing capabilities and would be tasked with “combating disinformation by state actors and others”.
“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.”
British MPs conducting a separate parliament-led inquiry have demanded information from Facebook about any paid-for activity by Russian-linked Facebook accounts around the 2016 EU referendum and the 2017 UK election.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced earlier this month he would overhaul domestic media legislation to fight the spread of fake news on social media, which he said was a threat to liberal democracies.
The move came as the National Security Council, chaired by May, agreed the main findings of an across-Whitehall review of national security capabilities.