Westminster Media Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

Tackling fake news and online misinformation

Morning, Friday, 27th November 2020

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will examine the priorities for policy, regulation and industry action in tackling fake news and online misinformation.

The discussion at a glance:

  • assessing current key threats:
    • COVID-19 -  the extent of the spread of online misinformation associated with the pandemic, and the work of the Rapid Response Unit
    • technology and health - looking at the rumours and campaigns in areas such as 5G and Anti-Vax
    • democratic institutions and processes - including reported attempts to influence elections, and targeted campaigns directed at political figures
    • online hate - misinformation directed at ethnic and other groupings and individuals in society
  • countermeasures:
    • effectiveness - assessing the strategies and action taken so far by online platforms and social media companies, and other mass media outlets
    • agility - how the response and the approach is changing to deal with new and emerging threats
    • technology - its role in speeding up identification of fake news, including the impact of AI
  • next steps - further measures that platforms, public bodies, regulators, campaigners and other stakeholders should implement to counteract the spread of misinformation online, including:
    • building resilience against coordinated disinformation
    • detection and takedown measures
    • warning messages and alerts for users who have engaged with misleading content online
    • building in ‘friction’ to content sharing
  • policy - assessing measures set out in the Government’s proposals to tackle online harms and how they relate to combating misinformation and online hate crimes:
    • the proposed statutory duty of care for online platforms towards their users
    • whether these measures go far enough in tackling the issues
  • regulation - priorities in an the evolving landscape, including what more can be done to work with online platforms and credit those who are taking proactive steps

A scan of relevant developments:

  • the Online Harms White Paper - with aims to protect children and vulnerable people online, and the Government’s Initial consultation response
  • Government minded to appoint Ofcom as online harms regulator - as part of its response and with Ofcom’s Raising awareness of online harms programme
  • government specialist units and initiatives - including The Rapid Response Unit - working from the Cabinet Office and No 10, the DCMS Counter Disinformation Cell and the SHARE checklist
  • Half of UK adults exposed to false claims about coronavirus -  findings from Ofcom
  • the Russia report - from The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament which found in part that UK is clearly a target for Russian disinformation and subsequent Government response
  • Government response to the Cairncross Review: a sustainable future for journalism - with a commitment to develop a media literacy strategy as part of the Online Harms White Paper

The agenda:

  • Online misinformation and the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Tackling fake news and online misinformation - the effectiveness of current countermeasures, the role of technology, and dealing with new and emerging threats
  • Regulation and online misinformation
  • The impact of online misinformation on advertising
  • Responding to the challenges of misinformation and related online harms - international collaboration, coordinated disinformation campaigns, and improving monitoring and verification
  • Next steps for policy in combating online misinformation

The discussion in detail:

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the effectiveness of current countermeasures

Sessions on the agenda will include a focus on the ongoing effect of the pandemic on fake news and misinformation and will provide an opportunity to discuss:

  • the work of the Government’s Rapid Response Unit - and whether more support is needed from central Government and regulators in tackling COVID-19-associated misinformation
  • the effectiveness of current countermeasures - and media literacy campaigns employed by online platforms and social media companies, how they are adapting, and what more needs to be done
  • role of machine learning and AI - and technology more widely - in the response

Responding to the challenges of misinformation and related online harms

In the context of the Government’s Online Harms White Paper delegates will also discuss:

  • regulation - priorities and potential changes to the framework, with the Government minded to appoint Ofcom as online harms regulator
  • media literacy - the role of improved monitoring and verification of content and the Government’s strategy for meeting future challenges
  • learning from international approaches - informing how the sector, Government and regulators respond to emerging threats and coordinated disinformation campaigns
  • policy - next steps in combatting fake news and misinformation

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons and the House of Commons Library, and officials from Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation; CMA; GCHQ; HMRC; IPO; Ofcom; and The Scottish Government. Also due to attend are representatives from Bournemouth University; Centre for Media Monitoring; CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang; Heyday; Internet Matters; Linklaters; NBC News International; UEA; University of Bournemouth; University of Sheffield; and Wiggin.

Press passes have been reserved by representatives from MLex; The Conversation; The Environment Magazine; and ZDNet.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Sarah Connolly

Director, Security and Online Harms, DCMS

Professor Rasmus Nielsen

Director, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and Professor of Political Communication, University of Oxford

Keynote Speakers

Senior speaker confirmed from Ofcom

Sarah Connolly

Director, Security and Online Harms, DCMS

Professor Rasmus Nielsen

Director, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and Professor of Political Communication, University of Oxford


Baroness Grender

Member, House of Lords Communications and Digital Select Committee and Vice Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Commercial Radio

Khalid Mahmood MP

Shadow Minister for Defence Procurement


Bryony Hurst

Partner and Head of Social Media, Bird & Bird

Rebecca Stimson

Head of UK Public Policy, Facebook

Dhruv Ghulati

Chief Executive Officer, Factmata

Senior speaker confirmed from BT

Professor Imran Awan

Professor of Criminology, Birmingham City University

Kamal Ahmed

Editorial Director, BBC News