A PRO-independence group has proposed to alter the SNP Code of Conduct in a bid to ensure members do not spread fake news.

Out for Independence – the LGBT+ wing of the SNP – has put forward an internal motion to the SNP National Conference agenda in the hope of protecting a fresh independence campaign from the threat of disinformation.

A 'critical issue' in global politics

The motion – which is guaranteed to be considered at the event in October - asserts disinformation has emerged as a “critical issue” in global politics and insists members have an important role to play in preventing the deliberate spread of it.

The group will propose to insert the following article into the party’s Code of Conduct:

“Members of the Scottish National Party are expected not to knowingly redistribute disinformation on matters of public import in digital, print, or media form.

“Disinformation is defined here as deliberately misleading, biased or altogether false information, knowingly shared to distort and manipulate public debate and/or to discredit democratic institutions and processes.

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“For misleading, biased or false information to be classified as disinformation, the false material disseminated has to be spread with deliberate intent to deceive.

“Unintentional spread of false information, satire, and subjective opinion are therefore not considered disinformation and are not subject to disciplinary action under this clause.”

What counts as 'disinformation', and does the motion suggest tackling it?

The motion is entitled Disinformation and the 2023 Independence Campaign: Amendment to Member Code of Conduct.

It says examples of disinformation include, but are not limited, to deepfakes – where a person in a video is replaced with someone else’s likeness – falsified photos, counterfeit websites, faulty statistics and conspiracy theories.

Out for Independence also wants the party to commit to implementing information resilience training insisting that tackling the “complex” scrouge of fake news requires a multi-faceted approach.

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The motion adds: “Conference notes that disinformation has emerged as a critical issue in global politics over the last decade, with concerns about increased interference in the public sphere by undemocratic and bad-faith actors.

“Conference further notes that with the announcement of a new independence referendum campaign, it is essential that we work to uphold the legitimacy of our democratic institutions, including the capacity for open and reasoned debate, and to prevent interference from undemocratic forces at this critical juncture in our history.

“Conference believes our members have a crucial role to play in preventing the deliberate spread of disinformation in public debate.

“Conference acknowledges that disinformation is a complex problem that requires more than one approach to address. Conference therefore resolves to develop and implement information resilience training to be made available to all members.”

The Code of Conduct row

It comes after a row broke out within the party and the wider independence movement over plans to adopt a definition of transphobia in the code of conduct of a future official Yes campaign, which will be established by the SNP.

Opponents claimed the proposal would mean those who said trans women remained biologically male would be excluded from the campaign.

The National:

But Michael Russell (above), the party’s president and one of the backers of the motion, has given assurances it would not “silence” women who believe biological sex is immutable after concerns were raised by prominent gender-critical SNP MP Joanna Cherry.

The SNP National Conference will take place from October 8 to 10 at the Event Complex in Aberdeen and will be the first in-person since 2019.