That’s it. Google is done with the Tories’ fake news campaign.

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The Conservatives are running such a rampant fake news campaign that Google is now done with it. The tech giant has banned eight separate Tory party online adverts.

They only have lies?

There have been many instances of disinformation from the Conservatives this election, such as:

  • Editing videos to misrepresent Labour figures.
  • A fake Labour manifesto website.
  • Pretending to be an independent fact-checker on social media.
  • Setting up fake encounters with voters for the camera.

And now we have eight banned adverts. Google would not disclose the content of the ads nor the specific reasons why they were removed. But the tech multinational’s guidelines claim that “we don’t allow ads or destinations that deceive users”.

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“Tories are relying on cynical and dishonest tactics”

Labour Party chair Ian Lavery said:

The fact that the Conservatives are resorting to fake news shows that they have no plans or desire to improve the lives of people in Britain. While Labour is running the biggest, people-powered campaign for real change in a generation, the Tories are relying on cynical and dishonest tactics.

It’s unclear how deceptive the banned ads were. Because there are still Tory ads visible that claim to send users to “Corbyn’s Labour manifesto”, but actually go to “labourmanifesto.co.uk” – a fake Tory-run site.

Even the BBC recently criticised the Conservatives for editing video ads to suggest that BBC presenters endorse the party’s attacks on Labour. The broadcaster said the ads “could damage perceptions of our impartiality”. The thing is, viewers have caught the BBC itself doctoring broadcasted footage on numerous occasions in a way that favours the Conservative Party this election.

Big Tech politics

It’s welcome that Google has acted against what is likely outright fake news from the Tory party. But we must question whether profit-minded big tech companies should really be regulating our political sphere. Another solution could be regulation through parliament while ensuring we uphold free speech.

At present, the UK elections watchdog – the Electoral Commission – has not condemned the Conservative Party’s disinformation this election. When the Tory Press Twitter account pretended to be an independent fact-checker, the Electoral Commission didn’t single out the ruling party, instead saying “voters are entitled to transparency and integrity from campaigners in the lead-up to an election”. The Electoral Commission also said that it doesn’t have a role in “regulating election campaign content”, but the watchdog is asking for greater powers to ensure ads are transparent.

Another problem is that fake news can do a lot of damage before a regulator takes it down. That suggests we also need appropriate regulation and punishment to stop people and parties creating fake news in the first place.

Careful action

We must treat any internet regulation with extreme caution because the risks of inadvertently shutting down legitimate speech remain. But Britain surely cannot allow the levels of fake news coming from the Tory party this election. Given the Electoral Commission doesn’t currently have the powers it needs, at least Google has stepped in for now.

Featured image via Roman Boed/ Flickr and Guardian News/ YouTube

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    1. If Goebbels had had the internet he too would have created fake manifestos to fool people, and for those who think there would have been no political opposition in his day, I’m not so sure that if Labour loses there will be any opposition to neo-liberalism ever again.

      The Blairites will ensure Labour become a second wing of a one-party state, and looking back at the tyranny of capital (and the poor and ill sanctioned to death is tyranny), there is no guarantee socialism will ever be allowed to stand again, not when it can be crushed under the lies of anti-Semitism and its “threat to national security”. This election will likely see the end of either the Tory Party or British socialism.

    2. The Conservative party has dug itself into a pit of deceit from which there is no escape. The walls are about to collapse and engulf it.

      At one time (decades ago) the Conservatives stood firmly behind principles of integrity (despite lapses by individuals). The Ayn Rand doctrine of ‘selfishness’ and unrestrained greed would have received little truck among most Conservative members and their MPs, each of whom sharing a concept of decency: perhaps lingering noblesse oblige.

      The party nowadays is fronted by morally bereft intellectual nonentities; doubtless among the general membership many decent folk remain. Johnson is fitting leader for his bunch of avaricious lick-spittles seeking to find comfortable positions in the pockets of equally loathsome barrow-boys ‘made good’ through dodgy business dealings. What’s also appalling is their lack of ability to pull off peculation with the panache once associated with the ‘ruling class’.

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