EU elections update: Can the EU voters vote unaffected from fake news and online disinformation?

European Elections 2019 in Utrecht – Polling station / Ballot box – A woman casts her ballot      Date: 23/05/2019 Reference: EP-089286A. © European Union , 2019 – Source : EP
Photo: ROBERT MEERDING

EU elections already kicked off yesterday in the UK and the Netherlands with several EU citizens abstaining in Britain due to clerical errors by local councils. The old continent is now following the EU elections closely, worrying about the effect of fake news and growth of far-right parties.

The EC published last week various reports concerning the progress that has been made  by Facebook, Google and Twitter in the fight of disinformation. The officials of the EU executive body expressed their acknowledgement of the social media’s commitment to protect the electoral process.

However, campaign group Avaaz published a report two days ago where it was found that far-right parties are using Facebook to spread fake news in order to mislead EU citizens and amplify their messages.

EC reports social media’s contribution

The European Commission recognized the efforts and actions taken by the three online platforms to tackle fake news and disinformation in an attempt to prevent meddling with the EU elections. More specifically, the Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip, the Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová, the Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King, and the Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel had mentioned in a joint statement :

“We recognise the continued progress made by Facebook, Google and Twitter on their commitments to increase transparency and protect the integrity of the upcoming elections. We welcome the robust measures that all three platforms have taken against manipulative behaviour on their services, including coordinated disinformation operations.”

It needs to be mentioned though that Twitter’s and Google’s policies on transparency around issue-based advertising will not be ready to be implemented before the EU elections. The latter can eventually lead to “divisive public debate” and “disinformation” during the elections according to the EC. Furthermore, the analysis shows that Facebook has taken several measures to prevent false, disruptive and misleading content from penetrating into its system.

Far-right parties meddle with EU elections

However, Avaaz, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization, recently conducted an EU-wide investigation on Facebook revealing that more than 500 pages and groups have been influenced by anti-EU groups which shared false and hateful content.

The analysis showed that the groups were in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom. They were all supporting the far-right extremist parties of each country spreading disinformation all over the online social media. Unfortunately, the content has been viewed more than half a billion times in the last three months inescapably contributing to the rise of nationalism and populism.

The US tech firm removed the misleading content from its platform, which was violating its policies, but the damage had already been done. The impact of this and similar cases could be influential in the elections of the 28 EU member states. Besides, Eurosceptic and populist parties are expected to win as much as 35% of the European Parliament seats according to the latest poll by Europe Elects .

Social media could do more

Facebook, Twitter and Google have to take stronger measures and provide more analytical data in order to ensure that fake news and online disinformation are effectively addressed. It is imperative that these platforms offer their users a much more accurate and verified information promoting transparency and connection with traditional media.

However, Facebook stated to AFP:

“Every day we block millions of fake accounts, and continue to deploy smarter technologies and better defences. But we are in an arms race against sophisticated and dedicated adversaries that want to attempt to manipulate public debate”.

It seems that the US tech giants are not going to use all the arrows available in their quiver to battle disinformation unless forced to do so. The ongoing EU elections will be only the beginning and further measures should be implemented in order to make sure that anti-EU false content is blocked. Otherwise, EU citizens will not be better protected adequately by far-right ideas and sentiments which have as their sole goal to dismantle the EU project and values.

All in all, it clearly seems that nationalism and populism have been affecting the EU electoral process not only through traditional channels but also through online social media using fake news and disinformation.

Let’s hope that their attempts will not influence the majority of EU voters who should try its best to remain untouched by such messages and instead promote a more united and solid bloc. At the end of the day though it will always be up to critical thinking to come as closer as possible to Downs’ (1957) rational voter (myth).

Europe will now have to wait until this Sunday evening to monitor the damages caused by sensational populist and far-right propaganda in social media and fake news outlets.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

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

Benefits of rural migration effect often overlooked, new UN report suggests

Politicization of migrant ‘crisis’ in Hungary making them scapegoats, independent UN human rights expert warns

What do the economic woes of Turkey, Argentina and Indonesia have in common?

Latvian economy is thriving, but boosting productivity, improving social protection and transitioning to a low-carbon productive model are vital for sustainable and inclusive growth

EU elections: The louder the threats and the doomsaying the heavier the weight of the vote

Bundestag kick starts the next episode of the Greek tragedy

The Europe we want: Just, Sustainable, Democratic and Inclusive

Blockchain can change the face of renewable energy in Africa. Here’s how

FROM THE FIELD: Weather reports come to aid of Uganda’s farmers

Concern rising over fate of Rohingya refugees sent home by India: UNHCR

The MWC14 Sting Special Edition

We don’t need to ban plastic. We just need to start using it properly

Huawei answers allegations about its selling prices

How telehealth can get healthcare to more people

Eurozone stuck in a high risk deflation area; Draghi expects further price plunge

EU-Japan trade agreement enters into force

UN agency chief calls Ethiopia’s revised refugee law ‘one of most progressive’ in Africa

Digital transformation and the rise of the ‘superjob’

The next Google in biotech: will it be Chinese?

DR Congo: efforts to control Ebola epidemic continue, UN food relief agency doubles assistance to affected people

Amsterdam is getting a 3D-printed bridge

I cycled over 6,000km across the United States to document climate change. Here’s what I learned

3 ways to fight stress at work

Germany’s strong anti-bribery enforcement against individuals needs to be matched by comparably strong enforcement against companies

We all have a ‘hierarchy of needs’. But is technology meeting them?

Technology can help us end the scourge of modern slavery. Here’s how

Saudi Arabia, China, among 14 nations under UN human rights spotlight: what you need to know

European Parliament and Eurovision sign partnership for European Elections

France is building a village for people with Alzheimer’s

Greece’s last Eurogroup or the beginning of a new solid European Union?

UN ‘prioritizing needs’, ramping up aid, as Hurricane Dorian continues to batter the Bahamas

Gender equality and medicine in the 21st century

“Leaked” TTIP document breaks post 8th negotiations round silence and opens door to critics

‘Crippling to our credibility’ that number of women peacekeepers is so low: UN chief

Women must be at ‘centre of peacekeeping decision-making’, UN chief tells Security Council

This app lets you plant trees to fight deforestation

Africa Forum aims to boost business, reduce costs, help countries trade out of poverty

EU–US: What is the real exchange in a Free Trade Agreement?

Eurozone: Even good statistics mean deeper recession

The EU Commission vies to screen Chinese investment in Europe

With security improving in DR Congo’s Kasai, thousands of refugees head home from Angola

Partnerships key to taking landlocked countries out of poverty: UN Chief

These are the world’s 20 most dynamic cities

Biggest London City Banks ready to move core European operations to Frankfurt or Dublin?

New Erasmus: more opportunities for disadvantaged youth

What is digital equality? An interview with Nanjira Sambuli

‘Race against time’ to help women who bore brunt of Cyclone Idai: UN reproductive health agency

At UN, Cuba slams US ‘criminal’ practices undermining country’s development

UN chief hopes for new agreement after Israel concludes international observation mission

Migrant workers sent more money to India than any other country last year

Security Council condemns ‘heinous and cowardly’ attack in Iran

Opening – Parliament expresses support for victims of Fuego volcano in Guatemala

Kenya wants to run entirely on green energy by 2020

A Sting Exclusive: “The Digital Economy and Industry are no longer opposing terms”, Commissioner Oettinger underlines live from European Business Summit 2015

Can Obama attract Iran close to the US sphere of influence?

This is what the world’s CEOs really think of AI

COP21 Breaking News: “We must accelerate the process”, Laurent Fabius cries out from Paris

Migrant caravan: UN agency helping ‘exhausted’ people home

European Citizens’ Initiative: Commission registers ‘Mandatory food labelling Non-Vegetarian / Vegetarian / Vegan’ initiative’

More Stings?

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