Wikipedia founder joins CILIP's fight against 'fake news'

Wikipedia founder joins CILIP's fight against 'fake news'

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has backed CILIP's campaign to challenge political parties and candidates to fight against "fake news" and run fact-based campaigns in the run up to the General Election.

The Facts Matter campaign is run by CILIP, the library and information association, and has been launched in response to the snap election in a bid to "cut through misinformation and to hold politicians to account."

Wales said there was "huge demand" for reliable facts and evidence, particularly as the UK goes to the polls. "Candidates and political parties need to understand their role to meet this demand," he said. "This will go a long way to restoring public trust in the political process."

CILIP is calling on all parties and candidates to make a public pledge that "facts matter" and declare their commitment to running evidence-based election campaigns. To date the Social Democratic and Labour Party has signed up to the pledge.

Nick Poole, CILIP chief executive said: “When (US) presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway coined the phrase ‘alternative facts’ she illustrated how dangerously fluid views on evidence and factual information have become. This isn’t an isolated case; we are witnessing challenges to our confidence in facts and evidence across public life.

“As librarians and information professionals we know that facts matter and that evidence-based decisions are good decisions. The General Election is the biggest decision the UK will make this year and previous elections and referenda have clearly shown the urgent need for reliable facts in the political debate. There is a growing movement to fight for evidence and facts in public life, which CILIP is proud to be part of.”

Wales has recently announced the launch of WikiTribune, a crowd-funded news site in which professional journalists and volunteers will collaborate on stories to challenge online "fake news".

Earlier this year, The Bookseller reported that university presses are also fighting against "fake news", with scholarly publisher De Gruyter and a number of university presses, including the Columbia, Princeton and Harvard UPs, launching a joint initiative to offer free content on topical issues such as immigration, ethics, climate change and Islamic studies. Similarly, IPA president Michiel Kolman said publishers should stand as “beacons of trustworthiness” in an age of fake news and alternative facts.

There has also been a raft of publishing commissioned around the subject of "fake news", with Ebury signing deals to publish Post-Truth by BBC "Newsnight" presenter and broadcaster Evan Davis and Matthew d'Ancona's Post-Truth: The New War on Truth and How to Fight Back, Biteback acquiring Post-Truth: How Bullshit Conquered the World, by journalist James Ball and Quercus publishing A Short History of Truth: Consolations for a Post-Truth World by Philosophers' Magazine editor Julian Baggini.