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Coronavirus: Disinformation

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN 98962, tabled on 6 January 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether the cross-Whitehall unit to counter disinformation on covid-19 is operating as of 6 January 2022; how many staff working as part of that unit there are in the (a) Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, (b) Home Office (c) Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, (d) Cabinet Office and (e) Ministry of Defence; and whether the number of staff in each team has increased or decreased since that unit was established in March 2020.

Answered on

11 January 2022

The Cross-Whitehall Counter Disinformation Unit (CDU) was established on 5 March 2020, bringing together cross-government monitoring and analysis capabilities. As of 7 January 2022 the CDU is still fully operational.

Addressing the challenges of disinformation and misinformation is a whole of the government effort. The CDU is resourced full time and works in close partnership with cross-government teams. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the size of the team in DCMS has increased. Requirements are continually reviewed to ensure appropriate levels of resourcing, including surge capacity as needed.

When false narratives are identified, the CDU coordinates departments across Whitehall to deploy the appropriate response. This can include a direct rebuttal on social media, flagging content to platforms and ensuring public health campaigns are promoted through reliable sources.

Named day
Named day questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.