Will fake news wreck the coming general election?

Have the social media giants cleaned up their act since the scandals of 2016? We give the big names a healthcheck

The next general election campaign has already started. We do not know the date of the vote, but we know that one is coming – and so do Britain’s political parties, which have been steadily stepping up their spending in the largely unregulated world of online advertising. In the last 90 days, the Tories have spent almost £100,000 on Facebook adverts, with the Brexit party spending even more: £107,000.

The fact that we even know those figures shows how far we’ve come in the past few years. In the face of government inaction (despite the Electoral Commission recommending better regulation of online campaigning a decade ago, nothing has changed), US technology firms have slowly been taking action. They’ve introduced transparency initiatives, begun to crack down on the most egregious disinformation and even successfully fought off a hostile state or two.

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