EU Vs. Disinformation: EU Presses Tech Giants to Fight Fake News

Written by | Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

European Commission has urged Facebook, Alphabet’s Google, Twitter and other tech rivals to try harder to tackle fake news two years after agreeing to a self-regulatory code of practice to tackle disinformation. Fake news related to the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated calls for social media to be more proactive in dealing with the issue. The tech giants (Microsoft and TikTok joined the group later) and trade bodies for the advertising industry signed up to the code in 2018 in a bid to stave off more heavy-handed regulation.
However, as European Commission pointed out in a report published last week (10 September), there are several shortcomings in the code following an assessment of its first year in operation. “These can be grouped in four broad categories: inconsistent and incomplete application of the code across platforms and member states, lack of uniform definitions, existence of several gaps in the coverage of the code commitments, and limitations intrinsic to the self-regulatory nature of the code,” the report said.
The commission vice president in chargé of values and transparency, Vera Jourova, called for more action to counter new risks. “As we also witness new threats and actors the time is ripe to go further and propose new measures,“ said Jourova, adding that „the platforms need to become more accountable and transparent. They need to open up and provide better access to data, among others.” Jourova is currently working on a European Democracy Action Plan to make democracy more resilient to digital threats. The commission is also working on a new set of rules called the Digital Services Act that are expected to be published by the end of the year and that are designed to increase social media’s responsibilities and liability for content on their platforms.

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