Fake news is dangerous at the best of times. It exposes vulnerable people to scam artists and other predators and undermines faith in our democracy.
But it is especially dangerous now. Accurate and up-to-date public health information is absolutely essential to fighting Covid-19 and keeping the pandemic under control.
Unfortunately, an irresponsible minority are misusing social media to spread conspiracy theories and misinformation, causing unnecessary distress to many and undermining the rules which have been laid down for our protection.
At the start of the year, I was elected to chair Parliament’s own Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Select Committee, and over the past few weeks I have made this issue one of my top priorities.
I called in representatives from the big social media companies, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, to press them directly on what they are doing to enforce their codes of conduct and keep their users safe.
And in the House of Commons I stood up and challenged Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, to give Parliament a clear timetable for when the Government will bring forward critical legislation to help protect the public against online harms.
Lockdown has had a profound effect on our cultural sector, with many businesses facing an uncertain future and in need of more information and better-tailored support.
So I have been hosting ‘DCMS surgeries’, allowing MPs from all over the country to talk to me directly about the issues of greatest concern in their area. They have been especially keen to talk about tourism, theatres, and live music venues, and I will be putting these concerns to ministers in the weeks ahead.
Here at home, Silhillians have continued to excel themselves in supporting their neighbours and community through the pandemic. The response to my Corona Heroes campaign has been inspirational.
This week’s winners are the Rev Jonny Lee and the team at the Renewal Christian Centre, who have been running the Helping Hands food bank. Just last month, they made 2,084 deliveries of food and other essentials across the borough, making sure that vulnerable and self-isolating residents got what they needed.