Group Pushes Google, Facebook to Do More About Fake News

Open MIC, which uses shareholder engagement to bring changes to media and tech companies, is trying to pressure social media sites to do more to combat fake news and hate speech.

The group has released a report based on data and comments from researchers and technologists that it said demonstrates the need for "gatekeepers" like Google and Facebook to create stronger transparency and reporting practices, as well as "board-level" governance.

The report recommends that tech companies should conduct impact assessments on information practices, create an "ombudsperson" post to gauge the impact of content algorithms on the public interest and report annually on the impact they are having on combating fake news, disinformation and hate speech.

The group also said shareholder resolutions asking Facebook and Google parent Alphabet to provide information to investors about fake news and hate speech issues are scheduled to be voted at shareholder meetings in June, though both boards oppose the proposals.

“We must push back against misinformation by encouraging gatekeepers such as Google and Facebook to continue their efforts to combat the problem, while avoiding the creation of any central bodies to decide what is ‘true’ or not,” World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee said in an Open MIC report. “We need more algorithmic transparency to understand how important decisions that affect our lives are being made, and perhaps a set of common principles to be followed.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.