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London’s mayor has a plan to fight fake news that doesn’t involve killing social media

London’s mayor has a plan to fight fake news that doesn’t involve killing social media
[Photo: Flickr user U.S. Embassy London]

During SXSW last month, the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, sat down with Fast Company to explain how his city is expanding its footprint in the tech industry and where the line is for government regulation that doesn’t impede innovation. This was, of course, before news of British political data firm Cambridge Analytica’s involvement in scraping Facebook user data.

However, Khan did touch on the proliferation of fake news and hate speech online, citing Germany’s recently instated law that fines social media sites if they don’t remove such content within 24 hours. It’s a tactic some see as a step too far–and one Khan doesn’t necessarily view as the most viable option.

“That’s one way of doing things,” he said. “What I’d rather do is speak to these tech companies and say, this is a problem. Let’s work together to try and find a solution. Us politicians can’t vacate the pitch and have our heads in the sand … Let’s work together to try and find solutions.”

In lieu of handing out fines from the sidelines, Khan said governments should work more closely with social media companies to help develop better algorithms and build bigger staffs to take down problematic posts.

“The rapid pace of this revolution is so fast, the growth so exponential that we’re in danger of having a tech revolution but not evolving regulation. And so I think politicians, policymakers, tech companies have got to work together to understand not all is good,” Khan said. “This is not an attack on free speech. Nobody’s against free speech. But the current regulation applies to publishers, newspapers, broadcasters–it doesn’t apply to social media. I’m not suggesting we should replicate that same regulation but we’ve got to have this conversation.”

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