Britain looking at Google, Facebook role in news: PM May's spokesman

FILE PHOTO: A 3D plastic representation of the Facebook logo is seen in this photo illustration May 13, 2015. To match Analysis INTERNET-POLITICS/ REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is looking at the role of Google and Facebook in the provision of news and what their wider responsibilities and legal status should be, a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said on Tuesday.

As more people get their news through Google and Facebook, some in the industry say the internet giants are publishers and not just platforms, meaning they should be held responsible for the content and regulated like traditional news providers.

“We are looking at the role Google and Facebook play in the news environment,” the spokesman told reporters, saying the work was part of a commitment to produce a digital charter setting out how firms and individuals should behave online.

“As part of that work we will look carefully at the roles, responsibility and legal status of the major internet platforms.”

A report on Tuesday by consultants Enders Analysis said that 6.5 million British internet users claimed to mainly source their news from Facebook.

May’s June 2017 election manifesto promised a digital charter “that balances freedom with protection for users, and offers opportunities alongside obligations for businesses and platforms.”

“We will ensure there is a sustainable business model for high-quality media online, to create a level playing field for our media and creative industries,” the manifesto said.

Reporting by William James and Paul Sandle; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg