Theresa May accuses Russia of launching a 'fake news' war against the West

Adam Bienkov
Theresa May fake news Russia

Leon Neal / Getty

  • Theresa May accuses Putin's regime of seeking to meddle in Western elections.
  • Prime Minister says the West must resist Russian propaganda war.
  • She accuses Russia of using fake news websites and social media to "sow discord" in the West.
  • She calls on Putin to choose a "different path."

LONDON — Theresa May has accused Russia of running a covert propaganda war using fake news to "sow discord" in the west and "meddle in elections."

The prime minister said the West needed to tackle Putin's regime which had become the biggest threat facing "open economies and free societies" across the globe.

"[Russia] is seeking to weaponise information. Deploying its state-run media organisations to plant fake stories and photo-shopped images in an attempt to sow discord in the West and undermine our institutions," May said.

"So I have a very simple message for Russia. We know what you are doing. And you will not succeed. Because you underestimate the resilience of our democracies, the enduring attraction of free and open societies, and the commitment of Western nations to the alliances that bind us."

In recent weeks Parliament's 'Fake news inquiry' has requested information from Twitter and Facebook on the thousands of apparently Russian accounts that posted during the EU referendum, only to disappear shortly afterwards.

May's government have warned that the spread of "fake news" websites could even lead to violence.

May's deputy, Damian Green said last month that the current spread of "fake news" was "feeding an atmosphere of increasing hatred" that could lead to another murder of an MP.

A spokesperson for Theresa May told Business Insider on Tuesday that the while the UK government had seen no "evidence of successful direct interference in UK democratic processes," they were taking "all the necessary steps to make sure we have the right protections in place and that our democratic processes aren't interfered with."

Russia hit back at May on Tuesday with an oblique tweet referencing her drinking. 

Tweet Embed:
#UK Prime Minister @theresa_may on @Russia: “We know what you are doing”. We know what YOU are doing as well. Dear Theresa, we hope, one day you will try Crimean #Massandra red wine]]>🍷