Julian Hayes

Infodemic: Tackling COVID-19 online disinformation

Updated 22nd April 2020

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, the internet was fertile territory for the spread of dangerous disinformation. Hostile states and malicious or misguided individuals quickly adopted the online sphere as a means of disseminating misleading and harmful material to a global audience for personal, financial or political aims. Steps were already taking place around the world to tackle the scourge of disinformation, often igniting concerns about freedom of speech. The global spread of the coronavirus has laid bare the lethal backdrop to this debate and galvanised social media giants and governments alike to tackle what the World Health Organisation (‘WHO’) has described a massive ‘infodemic’ accompanying the disease – an over-abundance of information, some accurate and some dangerously false, often leaving the public bewildered and vulnerable.

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Online Harms regulation – getting closer?

The Government’s much anticipated response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation has finally been released but those seeking clarity at this stage may be left scratching their heads. It appears to represent no more than an indication of the Government’s direction of travel under considerable media pressure to ensure that “something must be done” writes BCL partner, Julian Hayes and associate, Greta Barkle.

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