United Kingdom Disinformation Profile
- The Reality Report Media 2020-present (target US conservatives)
United Kingdom Domestic Disinformation
United Kingdom Media Environment
By 2017 95% of the U.K. population was online and in that year the proportion of people who used online platforms to read news overtook all other media types. They are ranked 35 out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index. The U.K. has prominent public broadcast services as well as highly partisan commercial press.
It is unclear if there was Russian influence in the Brexit referendum according to a report by the UK Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee.
Disinformation was spread by politicians and parties as well as foreign actors. The Conservative Party apologized for releasing a video which made it appear that the opposition Labour candidate with oversight over Brexit policy was unable to answer a question about exiting the European Union. The Conservative party also created a fake fact checking group and bought ads on google so that the top search results for the Labour party manifesto were actually sites that criticized the manifesto. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn cited documents damaging to the Conservative party that were linked to a Russian disinformation campaign.
Disinformation was highly prevalent among pro-brexit and pro-remain Facebook groups leading up to the election.
Disinformation surrounding Covid-19 has been highly prevalent. Anti-vax groups have used hesitations surrounding the vaccines as a launch pad to sow distrust. The majority of anti-vax content comes from internal sources within the U.K. however some has been linked to foreign states, particularly Russia. Some articles with COVID-19 disinformation receive more views than all of the NHS posts on the subject combined.
A Cardiff University Survey from March 21st through April 5th 2020 of a U.K. sample found that 51% of those surveyed had seen disinformation about coronavirus within the past month.