Fake news is not as prevalent in the run-up to this week’s general election as it was in either the French or American presidential elections, according to pundits and think tanks.
“There is no specific concern about fake news influencing the UK general election, but there must be an awareness that it could happen and have effects,” said Ben Nimmo, a senior fellow for information defence at the Atlantic Council.
Neither of the main candidates have suffered or benefitted from the sharing of disingenuous information via tabloids or social media to any measurable extent.
“The fake news is a lot more subdued in this election,” said Dr Jonathan Cable, a lecturer in digital media at Cardiff University. “There hasn’t been the same kind of hacking or leaks that occurred during the French or American elections.”
According to Nimmo, evidence of disinformation is relatively light with only the slightest of footprints from the Kremlin visible.
Meddling from Moscow, which US and French intelligence services believe occurred in both of their countries’ elections, has been limited to pro-Jeremy Corbyn editorials being published by Sputnik News and RT — two Kremlin-funded broadcasters.
The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab analysed five “op-edge” pieces written by RT that mentioned Corbyn in the run-up to the election. All five opinion pieces either sympathised with his policies, condemned negative media coverage about him or criticised Prime Minister Theresa May.
“Looking at opinion pages found favourable Corbyn coverage and quite strong language criticising May,” Nimmo said. “What you find is the same opinion is being written over and over again. There doesn’t tend to be an opposing viewpoint.”
These biases against May are amplified by repeated criticism under the guise of non-partisan editorials.
“A single opinion piece is just that, but many opinion pieces are taking an editorial stance,” Nimmo said.
A political analyst with close ties to the Russian government refuted these claims, saying the Kremlin is not interested in the General Election results.
Sergei Markov told the BBC that the EU referendum result last summer already gave the Kremlin what it wanted — a divided Europe.