Centre for Digital Governance

Political misinformation in the UK

How to regulate political advertising and campaigning, especially regarding the risk of misinformation in social media, to provide a safe online space and upholding free speech?

Political advertising on social media has influenced major historical events, like the Brexit referendum and the management of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The United Kingdom (UK) government recognised the increasing threat that political misinformation poses and released its first draft on the Online Safety Bill (OSB) as a response. Ultimately, the bill is supposed to regulate political misinformation and turn Britain into “the safest place in the world to be online”. This paper aims to support the current draft of the OSB based on 10 recommendations. These highlight the necessity of avoiding ambiguity in the wording of the bill, guaranteeing the independence of Ofcom as a regulator, and reframing the Bill so that it recognises collective harm and the danger that political mis/disinformation can cause to democracy in the UK. We believe that our recommendations have the potential to significantly increase the impact of the current proposal.