Comment on Lords report on 'pandemic of disinformation'

June 29, 2020




The House of Lords democracy and digital technologies committee has today urged UK ministers to toughen up the regulation of social media, warning of a ‘pandemic of misinformation and disinformation’.

The peers said too much power has been given away to a ‘few unelected and unaccountable digital corporations’ such as Google and Facebook.

Chair David Puttnam said: “This is a virus that affects all of us in the UK – a pandemic of misinformation and disinformation. If allowed to flourish, these counterfeit truths will result in the collapse of public trust, and without trust, democracy as we know it will simply decline into irrelevance.”

Among the report’s recommendations is the creation of a regulatory committee on political advertising.

The Open Knowledge Foundation has been campaigning for tougher regulation on the spread of disinformation.

A recent poll by Survation for the organisation found that 55 per cent of people in the UK believe the UK Government should ‘impose compulsory action on social media sites to prevent the spread of disinformation on their sites’.

Catherine Stihler, chief executive of the Open Knowledge Foundation, said: “This timely report comes at a vital moment in the fight against misinformation and disinformation.

“Amid a global public health crisis, and with the US election only months away, it’s time for governments to take action.

“The best way to tackle disinformation is to make information open, allowing journalists, scientists and researchers to provide facts to the public.

“Tech giants have a responsibility to increase transparency and work closely with fact checkers, but self-regulation is never going to be enough by itself – government intervention is required.

“The UK Government should take account of public opinion and the recommendations in this report and work towards a future that is fair, free and open.”



Opinion poll conducted by Survation on behalf of the Open Knowledge Foundation. Fieldwork conducted 27-28th April 2020, all residents aged 18+ living in UK, sample size 1,006 respondents.

Q. Thinking about social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, which of the following statements best reflects your views?

  • There should be no action taken to prevent the spread of disinformation on social media sites: 7%.
  • Social media sites should take voluntary action to prevent the spread of disinformation on their sites: 33%
  • The UK Government should impose compulsory action on social media sites to prevent the spread of disinformation on their sites: 55%
  • Don’t know: 5%

Contact: Alan Roden at or +44 (0)7753 904 531


Our vision is for a future that is fair, free and open. Our mission is to create a more open world – a world where all non-personal information is open, free for everyone to use, build on and share; and creators and innovators are fairly recognised and rewarded.

Open knowledge is any content, information or data that people are free to use, re-use and redistribute without any legal, technological or social restriction.

Through teaching, creating and campaigning, we are working for a fair, free and open future for all. For over a decade, we have pioneered openness and data literacy in new areas using technology, training, policy advice and research.

Read more here:

The Open Knowledge Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation. It is incorporated in England & Wales as a company limited by guarantee, with company number 05133759. Registered office address: 86 - 90 Paul Street, London EC2A 4NE, UK.

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