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Britain sets up unit to combat fake news

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Britain announced Tuesday it was setting up a new national security unit to combat "disinformation", just weeks after Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russia of using fake news to undermine Western institutions.

"We are living in an era of fake news and competing narratives," the prime minister's spokesman said.

"The government will respond with more and better use of national security communications to tackle these interconnected, complex challenges."

The new National Security Communications Unit was approved at a meeting of the National Security Council, which comprises ministers and senior security officials.

"This will be tasked with combating disinformation by state actors and others," the spokesman said.

"It will more systematically deter our adversaries and help us deliver on national security priorities."

In a speech in November, the prime minister accused Russia of mounting a "sustained campaign of cyber espionage and disruption", including meddling in elections.

"It is seeking to weaponise information, deploying its state-run media organisations to plant fake stories and photo-shopped images in an attempt to sow discord in the West and undermine our institutions," she said.

She warned: "You will not succeed... The UK will do what is necessary to protect ourselves, and work with our allies to do likewise."

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