Putin is pumping our kids’ brains full of fake news, Labour’s education chief warns

VLADIMIR Putin is pumping our kids’ brains full of fake news, shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson warns.

She said misinformation churned out by the Russian president’s “troll factories” are a national security risk.

Bridget PhillipsonLabour’s shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson[/caption]

“Our children need to be armed against his lies,” she told the Sun on Sunday.

Ms Phillipson vowed to crack down on the scourge by arming kids with new skills to pull apart conspiracy theories and spot fake videos.

Moscow uses bogus social media accounts on platforms like Twitter, Facebook and TikTok in a bid to destabilise Ukraine and its allies.

They have been linked to conspiracy theories about the Princess of Wales’ health, misinformation about the Israel-Hamas war and AI deepfakes.

Labour has promised to plumb critical thinking into the curriculum – from history to maths – to ensure students are not tricked by dodgy posts.

Ms Phillipson added: “We’ve got to make sure our children have got the skills they need to challenge what’s in front of them.

ReutersRussia’s President Vladimir Putin lights a candle as he visits the Church of the Holy Life-Giving Trinity in Pyongyang, North Korea[/caption]

“When you look at the influence, particularly of Russia, my worry is that Putin and his allies are pumping our kids’ brains full of fake news. We’ve got to take action.”

Ms Phillipson said she worries about what her own children aged 7 and 12 view online: “I do everything I can to make sure I keep my children safe.”

A BBC investigation last year found YouTube channels using AI to make videos containing false “scientific” information had been recommended to children as “educational content”.

Examples included conspiracy theories on electricity-producing pyramids, the denial of human-caused climate change and the existence of aliens.

It comes as two private schools are facing a police probe over claims pupils used AI to create deepfake pornographic images.

Labour’s manifesto commits to introducing AI regulation for tech giants and ban the creation of sexually explicit deepfakes.

The MP for Houghton and Sunderland South did not mirror the Tories call for a mobile phone ban in schools, saying: “Most schools already ban their use during the school day and insist the children have them turned off away in bags or put away in lockers.”

And she did not back calls to ban smartphone sales for under-16s: “I think it’s about giving our children the skills they need to navigate the online world.”

But the senior Labour MP did reveal she wants to look at making school dinners healthier.

She said: “It’s essential that school meals are nutritious, well balanced, and that we insist on high standards around all school meals.”

It comes after studies found the average UK school meal is mostly made of ultra-processed foods.

The Labour frontbencher – who refused to serve in Jeremy Corbyn’s cabinet – also steered clear of her boss’s language on the leftwinger this week.

Sir Keir Starmer sparked a backlash when he said his predecessor would have been a better prime minister than Boris Johnson.

Asked if she agreed, Ms Phillipson said: “I had serious disagreements with Jeremy Corbyn’s approach. But Jeremy Corbyn is in the past. He’s not a Labour member. He’s been kicked out.”

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