EU elections: Can EU citizens’ awareness eradicate fake news more efficiently than Facebook, Twitter and Google?

Press conference of Andrus Ansip, Vice-President of the EC, Vĕra Jourová, Julian King and Mariya Gabriel, Members of the EC, on disinformation
Date: 05/12/2018 Location: Belgium,Brussels – EC/Berlaymont
© European Union , 2019
Photo: Jennifer Jacquemart

Last Thursday, the European Commission published the reports of Facebook, Google and Twitter regarding the progress made in January in their voluntary pledges to tackle disinformation. Disinformation is a major challenge globally and for Europe and all stakeholders have to be actively involved in order to address citizens’ exposure to it.

However, the US tech companies didn’t provide enough details of the actual results according to the EU executive body, while there is always a need to be fully prepared ahead of the EU elections in May.

Background

Since March 2015, the EU has been creating an action plan and policies in order to tackle fake news. Back then the European Council established the East StratCom Task Force in the European External Action Service (EEAS)  to “challenge Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaigns”. A year after, the Joint Framework on countering hybrid threats was adopted leading to the Joint Communication on increasing resilience and bolstering capabilities to address hybrid threats in 2018.

In April 2018, the EC pointed out the tools, Code of Practice and action plan to tackle disinformation online. Last October, Facebook, Google, Twitter and Mozilla were among the companies to sign on a voluntary basis the Code of Practice which since December 2018 is being monitored by the EC. The aim of the measures is to increase transparency in online political advertisements, close fake accounts and detect disinformation campaigns through fact-checkers in order for the EU elections to be organised in a democratic way.

EC’s stance against disinformation

The Commission stated last week that the US tech giants were not delivering to their pledges regarding the reporting of the implemented actions for the blazing issue of fake news and online disinformation. Hence, the EC is now pressing further the online firms to comply and deliver the Code of Practice measures before the EU elections in order to avoid any possible influence and meddling in the outcome as it recently happened in the 2016 US elections.

More specifically, Commission’s Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová, Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King, and Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel jointly stated on February 28: “The online platforms, which signed the Code of Practice, are rolling out their policies in Europe to support the integrity of elections. However, we need to see more progress on the commitments made by online platforms to fight disinformation. Platforms have not provided enough details showing that new policies and tools are being deployed in a timely manner and with sufficient resources across all EU Member States. The reports provide too little information on the actual results of the measures already taken. Finally, the platforms have failed to identify specific benchmarks that would enable the tracking and measurement of progress in the EU. The quality of the information provided varies from one signatory of the Code to another depending on the commitment areas covered by each report. This clearly shows that there is room for improvement for all signatories.”

Will the US tech giants comply or not?

According to the EC, Facebook didn’t report the results of the actions taken regarding the control of ad placements whereas Google’s measurement methods are not specific enough to address fake news. What is more, Twitter didn’t send any methods to enhance the ad placement scrutiny.

EU’s security Commissioner, Julian King, and digital economy Commissioner, Mariya Gabriel expressed their concerns last week regarding the topic. In detail, they mentioned that: “The results last time fell short of expectations – so we called on the platforms to go further and faster in their efforts to tackle disinformation. Sadly, despite some progress, rather than improve, they have fallen further behind. The lack of hard numbers is particularly worrying. Facebook has again failed to provide all necessary information, including any data on its actions in January on scrutiny of ad placements or efforts to disrupt advertising and monetisation incentives for those behind disinformation.”

On the other hand, social media companies had outlined that it is not their task to verify that everything people are saying on their platforms is true and accurate. Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg had mentioned on this issue in 2017 that: “We definitely don’t want to be the arbiter of the truth.” Furthermore, Twitter had raised its concern about the action to be done on a world leaders’ tweet which is not true. Should it be removed? In particular, the US company had said: “Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets would hide important information people should be able to see and debate. It would also not silence that leader, but it would certainly hamper necessary discussion around their words and actions”.

EU elections: with or without disinformation?

Europe is struggling to address the major challenge of disinformation and protect its citizens from misleading false information ahead of the EU elections. The failure of online platforms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter to comply with their fake news commitments has started worrying officials at the EC, which could impose regulatory rules in case US firms don’t seem to comply with the already agreed actions in the long-run.

All in all, democratic systems and EU values should be above any opportunistic views which can alter the outcome of elections as done in the past with Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal. The adverse effects of disinformation on society demand for joint actions with citizens trained to comprehend what is and is not false news.

Subsequently, the next monthly report from the online platforms is anticipated in March and will showcase to the EC whether effective policies can ensure the validity and independence of the May elections. A 12-month period assessment will be carried by the EU executive arm at the end of 2019 in order to evaluate and decide on the regulatory framework.

Another critical point that should be pointed out is whether or not the media sector will be influenced by policies about online disinformation. Would these policy changes tackle fake news in exchange for increased costs and market obstacles to decent media startups? Then the trade-off wouldn’t be win-win neither for the society nor the media.

It naturally remains to be seen how the EC can rightfully protect the upcoming EU elections from disinformation while taking extra care not to create impediments to the media market and its decent players, small or big, who daily strive for a better and stronger European Union with independent journalism.

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Threat from petty criminals who turn to terrorism, a growing concern, Security Council hears

1st Exclusive High Level Dialogue: China-EU Cybersecurity and 5G Cooperation

With science ‘held back by a gender gap’, Guterres calls for more empowerment for women and girls

Security Union: Commission receives mandate to start negotiating international rules for obtaining electronic evidence

More than four in 10 women, live in fear of refusing partner’s sexual demands, new UN global study finds

Hunger in Yemen: WFP considers aid suspension in face of repeated interference by some Houthi leaders

State aid: Commission approves Luxembourg guarantee measure to further support economy in coronavirus outbreak

Technophobe or technophile? We need more conversation about digital transformation

A Sting Exclusive: “Leading by example! EU must push for UN deal to avoid dangerous climate change”, European Parliament Vice-President Ulrike Lunacek cries out from Brussels

EP’s MFF negotiators disappointed by failure of EU budget summit

State aid: Commission approves German scheme for very high capacity broadband networks in Bavaria

Cyprus Parliament says no to blackmail

World must do more to tackle ‘shadowy’ mercenary activities undermining stability in Africa, says UN chief

Germany to re-invent its security position in Europe and a chaotic world

Samsung’s profits fall as cheaper smartphones gain market share

The 5 mistakes we’re making in the fight against global energy poverty

Denouncing attacks against Baghdad protesters, UN warns ‘violence risks placing Iraq on dangerous trajectory’

B-I-R-D: 4 digital technologies that can help supply chains take flight

Tackling ‘deeply worrying’ global rise in anti-Semitism is a job for all societies everywhere, says UN chief

Unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Mali revealed in new report

‘Disaster resilient’ farming reduces agriculture risks, yields economic gains, says new UN agriculture agency report

5 reasons why reading books is good for you

Knowledge management and entrepreneurship: short term vs. long term perspective

‘No justification’ for attacks against civilians, UN envoy says on mounting cross-border violence in Gaza

Why education and accountability are important for developing countries?

Further reforms can foster more inclusive labour markets in The Netherlands

The world’s economy is only 9% circular. We must be bolder about saving resources

US migrant children policy reversal, still ‘fails’ thousands of detained youngsters: UN rights experts

The price of centralization of human resources for health

Reparations for sexual violence in conflict – ‘what survivors want most, yet receive least’

EU’s new environmental policy on biofuels impacts both the environment and the European citizen

How to rebuild trust and integrity in South Africa

Efforts to save the planet must start with the Antarctic

MEPs demand an end to migrant deaths across the Mediterranean Sea

Restore hope that peace will come to the Middle East, UN negotiator urges Security Council

Nauru President warns of possible climate change ‘economic Armageddon’

“We are in Europe, but not of it”, from Churchill to Cameron: British Exceptionalism now threatens the entire EU Edifice

Friday’s Daily Brief: human rights in Sudan, sombre anniversaries for Rwanda and Nigeria, and fears of ‘chaos’ in Libya

Here are three ways blockchain can change refugees’ lives

UN ‘comes together in sadness and solidarity’ to honour staff who died on board Ethiopian Airlines flight

Foreign investment to be screened to protect EU countries’ strategic interests

EU budget: Commission proposes €1.26 billion to reinforce the European Solidarity Corps

Davos participants call for digital trade deal

Are e-cigarettes as safe as they claim to be?

The world’s largest bus system is starting to go electric

A critical European young voice on Net Neutrality: the distance between Brussels and Washington

Coronavirus emergency: here’s what we know so far

At last Germany to negotiate the costs for a really cohesive Eurozone

MEPs want to ensure sufficient funding for Connecting Europe’s future

Amsterdam is getting a 3D-printed bridge

Economy and living standards of Gaza ‘eviscerated’ by crippling blockade – UN trade and development report

Governments must act to help struggling middle class

Will satellites destroy our view of space?

Commission refers Denmark to the Court for failing to fulfil its obligations in relation to the name “Feta”

A quarter of Americans have no retirement savings

As children freeze to death in Syria, aid officials call for major cross-border delivery boost

Combatting terrorism: Parliament sets out proposals for a new EU strategy

London to say hello or goodbye to Brussels this week

A Sting Exclusive: “Cybersecurity: Why consumer products must be looked at urgently”, by BEUC’s Deputy Director General

The secret to Bangladesh’s economic success? The Sheikh Hasina factor

More Stings?

Advertising

Trackbacks

  1. […] europeansting.com, 6 marca 2019 r. Komisja Europejska opublikowała raporty Facebooka, Google i Twittera dotyczące postępów poczynionych w ich dobrowolnych zobowiązaniach do walki z dezinformacją. Firmy nie dostarczyły jednak wystarczająco szczegółowych informacji na temat faktycznych wyników jakie udało im się osiągnąć. Czytaj więcej… […]

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s