Government Communications Service
How we are fighting the spread of false coronavirus information online
Blog post by: Subhajit Banerjee, Thursday, 16 April 2020.
During World War 2, posters reminded the public that Careless Talk Costs Lives. It’s just as true today - and thanks to the internet, social media and messaging apps, careless talk spreads even further and faster.
That’s where the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) comes in. We’re based in the Cabinet Office and No10, and on Covid-19 we have stepped up our efforts significantly to identify and counter harmful narratives online – from ‘experts’ issuing dangerous health misinformation to fraudsters running phishing scams.
Up to 70 incidents a week, often false narratives containing multiple misleading claims, are being identified and resolved.
Working with departments across Government, we deploy a range of techniques to combat false narratives, including:
- Direct rebuttal on social media working with platforms to remove harmful content ensuring public health campaigns are promoted through reliable sources.
- Our work feeds into the wider Counter Disinformation Cell led by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, made up of experts from across government and in the tech sector. The Cell engages with social media platforms and with disinformation specialists from civil society and academia.
The Government is also sharing its assessment of disinformation with international partners to better understand the global picture. Working collaboratively has already helped make the UK safer, providing ourselves and our allies with a better understanding of how different techniques are used as part of malicious information operations – and how to protect against those techniques more effectively.
Working with citizens
We are also asking the public to help us. The Government is running the Don’t Feed The Beast campaign which gives the public five easy steps to follow to identify whether information may be misleading:
- Source – make sure information comes from a trusted source
- Headline – always read beyond the headline
- Analyse – check the facts
- Retouched – does the image or video look as though it has been doctored?
- Error – look out for bad grammar and spelling
Stopping the spread of dangerous misinformation can prevent crimes and save lives. As our colleagues, we ask you to help us by watching out for false information and sharing our responses.
Here are some examples of the RRU rebutting false narratives:
Latest News from
Government Communications Service
Government Communication Service (GCS) launches new platform to deliver efficiency in government’s online advertising25/06/2020 09:10:00
The GCS has launched the Custom Supply-Side Platform (cSSP) to deliver more efficient and transparent ‘digital display’ advertising online.
Call for evidence for Coronavirus (COVID-19) communication report24/06/2020 13:38:00
The Government Communication Service (GCS) COVID-19 Advisory Panel has issued a call for information and evidence about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the communication profession.
Improving Campaigns with the Aggregated Outcomes Benchmarking Database01/06/2020 15:20:00
Blog posted by: Kannen Ramsamy, Noel McGarell, 29 May 2020.
The new GCS website: redesigned with you in mind01/06/2020 11:10:00
Statement given by Alex Aiken, Executive Director of Government Communication in the Cabinet Office, on the new GCS website.
Mental Health Awareness Week 202020/05/2020 16:48:00
Blog posted by: Matt Dolman, Wednesday 20 May 2020.
Leading the GCS Way18/05/2020 12:10:00
Over recent years, the Government Communication Service (GCS) has invested [hugely] into recruiting and developing communications professionals while constantly challenging ourselves to stay ahead of the curve as the world of communications evolves.
Coronavirus (COVID-19): GCS offers job support to communication professionals09/04/2020 16:20:00
The Government Communication Service has put together an advisory panel to provide career support to communications professionals whose roles have been impacted by COVID-19.
GCS Campaign of the Month winner March 202008/04/2020 15:38:00
Congratulations to the Department for International Trade (DIT) internal communication team, winners of the GCS Campaign of the month for their ‘Inclusion and Fair Treatment’ campaign which encourages colleagues to model best practice behaviours for inclusion, equality, diversity, wellbeing and performance.