News Corp Australia has warned of the risks of a “fake news” story spreading online, as it revealed that the National Broadband Network (NBN) is considering a system that would “hide” information from the public and media.
The news was first flagged by the Coalition, and a spokesperson for the Federal Government said it was working with industry to understand the risks posed by misinformation.
News Corp’s report comes after news broke that a former NBN contractor had created a website that was allegedly intended to spread fake news.
The “fake” story was claimed to be an “unofficial” government announcement that NBN Co was not providing enough capacity to meet demand for the NBN’s new fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) network.
The company said it had “investigated” the story and “did not find any evidence to support it”.
“NBN Co has always been clear about its commitment to providing quality, affordable, reliable, high-quality internet services, which is why we continue to engage with the public to ensure we are providing accurate and up-to‑date information about the network,” the spokesperson said.
“We also encourage anyone with questions about the NBN to contact us.”
News Corp said it also spoke to several other government agencies, including the Communications Minister, the Attorney-General and the Treasurer.
The Australian Financial Standards Authority also published a draft of a national guidelines on the “quality and accuracy” of the “fake media”.
The guidelines, released on Monday, said the guidelines “recognise that fake media can be a risk to the public’s confidence in news and information provided by government and the media”.
“The guidelines also recognise that in many cases, it is not necessary to ensure the accuracy of news reports or information.
The government should also consider whether the accuracy or quality of news and public announcements is of any particular concern,” the guidelines said.
The guidelines also recommend that “any publication that is designed to mislead the public” should be treated as a “false and defamatory matter”.
In a statement to the ABC, NBN Co said it “does not recognise any of the content” mentioned in the report and “does encourage any interested parties to conduct their own independent investigation into the matter”.
NBN Co’s chief information officer, Andrew Coates, told the ABC that the company was not aware of any specific “fake story” but it would “take into account the context in which the content is presented”.
“As such, we are actively working with the industry to work with them to provide the best service possible to the Australian people,” he said.
He said that while there was “no specific policy or position” on the matter, the company would work with stakeholders and “make sure that they get the most up-front information”.