Fake news, click-bait articles to be scrutinised by Senate inquiry

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The ABC, Google, Facebook and the major mastheads are likely to give evidence at a Senate inquiry into public interest journalism looking into how fake news and click-bait is affecting the media industry.

The impact of fake news and “click-bait” articles will be scrutinised by a proposed Senate inquiry that will compel Australia’s public broadcaster the ABC, Google, Facebook and the major mastheads to give evidence.

The inquiry, which is expected to pass with majority support when it goes to a vote in the Senate on Wednesday, will look at the state of public interest journalist in Australia and around the world.

It will scrutinise the laws around the market power of search engines such as Google and social media services promoting fake news as well as click-bait generators.

The purpose of calling in Google and Facebook is to look at changes in their search algorithms that may have impacted the online models for struggling news outlets.

Fairfax Media journalists returned to work on Wednesday after a week-long strike that affected its coverage of the Budget. It followed Fairfax's announcement it would make another 125 journalists redundant as part of a $30 million cost saving drive.

Labor Senator Sam Dastyari is to chair the committee with Greens Senator Scott Ludlam as deputy and includes Independent Senator Nick Xenophon.

Xenophon on proposed fake news inquiry

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Senator Dastyari told SBS World News the inquiry was necessary because changes in the media landscape could no longer be ignored.

“The Senate will now have the opportunity to examine the appropriate response to the erosion of Australia’s major news organisations,” he said.

“Australia’s public interest journalism is being eroded by online companies who pay no tax in Australia, and who are increasingly determining what we read every day.”

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