The European Commission is proposing measures to tackle disinformation online, including an EU-wide Code of Practice on Disinformation – a supportive tool for an independent network of fact-checkers and a number of initiatives meant to encourage quality journalism and to promote media literacy. The EU executive seeks to ensure the protection of European values and security in the light of the recent Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip said that disinformation was not a new tool of political influence but the new technologies, such as digital, have expanded its reach via the online environment to undermine democracy and society. “Since online trust is easy to break but difficult to rebuild, industry needs to work together with us on this issue. Online platforms have an important role to play in fighting disinformation campaigns organized by individuals and countries who aim to threaten our democracy.”
Based on the latest Eurobarometer survey, 83% of respondents said that the fake news represents a danger to democracy. Respondents were particularly worried by intentional disinformation aimed at influencing immigration policies and elections. The study also emphasized the importance of quality media: respondents generally perceive traditional media as the most trusted source of news (radio 70%, TV 66%, print 63%). Online sources of news and video hosting websites are seen as the least dependable source of news, with trust rates of 26% and 27% respectively.
The new measures to tackle disinformation online include ensuring transparency about sponsored content, providing greater clarity about the functioning of algorithms and enabling third-party verification, introducing measures to identify and close fake accounts as well as making it easier for users to discover and access different news sources representing different viewpoints.