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Brussels calls on social media platforms to combat disinformation before EU Parliament elections

Tuesday, 29 January, 2019 - 16:52

The European Union is calling on online platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google to intensify the fight against disinformation on the eve of European elections.

The European Commission made the announcement today as part of a report on how social networks tackled last year’s fight against fake news online. It states that there is concern that a third party such as Russia could influence upcoming polls in order to boost populist, Euro-skeptic parties.

“Given the proximity of the European elections, any progress made in the fight against disinformation is welcome,” EU Commissioner for Security Affairs Julian King said.

“But we need to go further and faster before May. We don’t want to wake up the day after the elections and realise we should have done more.”

The European Commission, the 28-nation union’s executive arm, gave its first report on what the internet players have done to meet pledges made late last year in a “code of practice” to fight disinformation.

“Some progress has been made, including the elimination of false accounts and the limitation of the visibility of sites that promote misinformation,” the Commission said Tuesday.

But “additional measures are needed to ensure full transparency of political advertising by the start of the campaign for the European elections in all EU member states,” it added.

The Commission also called on internet platforms allow to “appropriate access” to their data.

“Leading European researchers have reported back that they’ve not been able to access, for example, Facebook data, and we need to do something about that,” Sir Julian said.

In September, Facebook, Google, Mozilla and Twitter signed the European anti-fraud online code. The code obliges companies to make political advertising more transparent and shut down fake profiles to help people make decisions based on accurate information.

Reports will now be issued each month by the Commission which will “carry out a full assessment” of the application of the “Code of Conduct” by the end of the year.

“If the results prove unsatisfactory, the Commission could propose other actions, including regulation,” Sir Julian King warned.



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