British Culture Secretary takes on Facebook with his own social network app

Britain's new Culture Secretary Matt Hancock previously looked after the government's digital department.

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Matt Hancock, Britain's new Culture Secretary, has decided to take on Big Tech. In Suffolk.

"Hello, I'm Matt Hancock! And welcome to my app!", a SnapChat-style video shot proclaims once you open the new "Matt Hancock" app, launched on Thursday (Feb 1), to connect with his constituents in West Suffolk.

Hancock, who entered Parliament in 2010 and was promoted in a reshuffle last month, previously looked after the government's digital department, which involved monitoring the reach of the likes of Facebook and Twitter.

Some of Hancock's constituents have already registered on the app and started engaging with Hancock, such as writing comments and liking posts.

In December 2017, Hancock appeared in front of lawmakers regarding the rise of fake news. Giving evidence to the House of Lords, he said there was "a lot of work to do to make sure we have reasonable objective information underpinning our democratic discourse".

It is not clear how his new app verifies users - you do not have to be a constituent to sign up - while the guidelines say it will not tolerate offensive conduct and "offenders may be removed"

Hancock, who is now overseeing 21st Century Fox Inc.'s £11.7 billion (S$21.7 billion) bid for Sky, is able to send push notifications to his new audience whenever he is delivering a speech, or wishes to speak directly to his voters via a recorded video.

"Twitter feels so dated, now that I've downloaded the future," Tim Farron, former leader of the Liberal Democrats party, said on Twitter.

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