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EU welcomes progress by internet giants to eliminate misleading information from their platforms

Tuesday, 23 April, 2019 - 21:56

The European Commission has welcomed the progress made by Facebook, Google and Twitter in their efforts to combat misleading information on their platforms, but say more needs to be done so that they can evaluate their services.

“We appreciate the efforts made by Facebook, Google and Twitter to increase transparency before the European elections” to be held from May 23 to 26, European Commissioner for the Single Market Digital, Andrus Ansip said, adding that he hopes to see more progress in the next monthly report.

Among the improvements noted by the Commission in its monthly evaluation of the code of conduct that the internet giants have voluntarily signed up to includes the labelling of political ads, which Facebook and Twitter have made publicly accessible in the form of ‘libraries’, while Google’s library is in its testing phase.

“However, further technical improvements as well as sharing of methodology and data sets for fake accounts are necessary to allow third-party experts, fact-checkers and researchers to carry out independent evaluation,” the European Commission said. 

The report welcomes the fact that the code of conduct has encouraged Twitter and Facebook to take “additional measures to guarantee the integrity of their services and fight against malicious robots and false accounts,” and that Google has “increased collaboration with fact-checking organisations and networks”.

In addition, the three platforms are developing initiatives to promote “digital literacy and provide training to journalists and campaign staff,” added the European Commission.

In recent months, foreign interference in election campaigns for the European Parliament and national elections have been detected in Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Poland, Portugal and Ukraine. To gain the upper hand over fake news the Commission specified that: “Further technical improvements and sharing of false account methodologies and data sets to allow third-party experts, inspectors and researchers to make an independent assessment are needed.”

In particular, according to the European Union, Google has not made sufficient progress with regard to transparency in the use of advertising on important topics during the elections.

Facebook, on the other hand, after blocking eight irregular networks and thousands of fake accounts from Northern Macedonia, Kosovo and Russia, did not check whether European accounts were involved in the use of these networks.

Finally, Twitter, despite having shown various data on actions taken against spam and fake accounts, did not provide further details on how these are related to the activity of accounts coming from Europe.

The Commission will publish a full report on the progress made by the three companies by the end of 2019.


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