The Rapid Response Unit, a specialist unit set up in April 2018 to monitor and combat “fake news” and disinformation online, is set to continue operating after its pilot phase was deemed a success by the Government. Based across the Cabinet Office and Number Ten, it has secured funding to continue its work for the foreseeable future after launching in. It is used to support the work of the Cabinet Office’s Media Monitoring Unit, which delivers a daily news briefing for all Government departments on the biggest social media stories, Marsh said.
Misinformation is defined by the government as “inaccurate or misleading content” and disinformation as “false content deliberately spread with intent to deceive”. Disinformation is commonly known as fake news.
The team monitors online “stories of concern” with a Government and public services link, and decides on the bets course of action to respond to them. It also carries out analyses of “major trends in online government-related discussion”, says a blog post by Cabinet Office data journalist Oliver Marsh. In addition to pushing its own content on social media, the RRU’s can also work on boosting Google rankings of relevant Government information as a response to stories that are created for sensationalism goals. It also, in some cases, monitors “alternative news outlets.”
Funding for the initiative seems like a positive step by the government for trying to control fake and factually unsupported information.