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New shadow Culture Secretary praises WhatsApp fake news move

Posted on: April 7, 2020 by Mariella Brown

Newly appointed Shadow Culture Secretary Jo Stevens has welcomed moves by digital messaging platform WhatsApp to limit the spread of Covid-19 fake news.

Stevens, who was appointed to her new post yesterday by new Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, voiced support for WhatsApp’s decision to impose a new limit on the forwarding of messages. If a message has been forwarded more than five times, under the new restrictions the recipient is only able to send it on to a single chat at a time.

Writing on Twitter, Stevens described WhatsApp’s decision as an ‘encouraging step to help prevent dangerous disinformation spreading about #COVID19. We’ve seen the impact it has had this week with criminal damage to 5G masts on basis of false claims.’

The Labour MP for Cardiff Central, Jo Stevens, was appointed Shadow Secretary for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in a shadow cabinet reshuffle yesterday (April 6) and replaced Tracy Brabin.

Stevens is a DCMS Select Committee Member and sits on the sub-committee on Online Harms and Disinformation. The sub-committee has most recently asked members of the public to flag up instances of fake news on social media for it to be presented as evidence for the government and social media companies.

Yesterday when accepting her new role as shadow culture secretary, Stevens praised the role of the digital, cultural and creative industries as ‘sectors I care passionately about’, saying the ‘Covid19 crisis makes us value even more the everyday pleasure they bring’.

In other appointments, David Lammy becomes Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice. The MP for Tottenham since 2000 replaces Richard Burgon.

Lammy’s work for the justice sector in the past includes the influential Lammy Review which investigated Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic representation in the criminal justice system and was published in 2017. The 18-month-long investigation resulted in a report which made 35 recommendations to improve on racial disparity and transparency in the justice system.

The Leader of the Opposition announced his front line ministers on Sunday afternoon including Lisa Nandy taking the Foreign and Commonwealth role.

A full list of appointments can be read here.