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Social media giants facing clampdown

By Thomas Hornall

Social media companies risk being told to "open up or break up" in 2018 as fears over fake news approach boiling point, a leading academic has suggested.

"It may well be that this is now the beginning of the end for these firms," said Dr Damian Tambini, director of the London School of Economics' media policy project.

He added: "The days of social networks enjoying an ability to shift public opinion, while remaining largely free of the liabilities publishers face, may be numbered.

"They have enjoyed this ability to use our data, our content, our innovation, to create huge businesses and we have given them a shield from a lot of the risks.

"So essentially we made them - is this the year that we begin unmaking them?"

Leading social media companies have been criticised recently over their replies to a parliamentary investigation into fake news and allegations of Russian interference in British politics.

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