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.

the sting Milestones

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

MEPs clear another hurdle for the COVID-19 recovery plan

Political consensus critical ahead of Somalia election: UN mission chief

UN chief saddened at news of death of former US President George H.W. Bush

Trump’s blasting win causes uncertainty and turbulence to the global financial markets

Two States ‘side-by-side’ is the ‘peaceful and just solution’ for Israel-Palestine conflict: Guterres

Sustainable development funding is broken. Here’s how to fix it

Why the next 4 months are crucial to the future of the ocean

Hate speech in the digital world a ‘critical obstacle for LGBTI people’: UN’s Bachelet

Europe enters uncharted waters with Kiev-Moscow standoff

The Fight for Women’s Rights

It’s not summer holidays what lead to the bad August of the German economy

EU summit: Are the London Tories planning an exit from the EU?

Track the spread of coronavirus around the world

The Ukrainian crisis to destabilize Europe and the world for a long time

5 world-changing ideas: our top picks for World Creativity and Innovation Day

The psychology of pandemics

Tech can reach the world’s unbanked women – but only if they tell us how it should work

UN health agency team in China to strengthen coronavirus response through partnership

Attempt to defy international law over Golan Heights sovereignty ‘doomed to failure’ Security Council hears

This South Korean city once had the biggest coronavirus outbreak outside of China. Now it’s reported zero new cases

THE COMMITTEES: ‘All roads lead to the Fifth’

Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed merger of Cargotec and Konecranes

World Editors Forum President: Credible media vital in the fight against COVID-19 and fake news epidemic

The Council of Europe adopts Recommendation on young people’s access to rights

The US will impose tariffs on Mexico, says President Trump

How the Irish people were robbed by banks, the Commission and their own government

Reforms in a few countries drive a decline in average OECD labour taxes

Medical students as the critical link to address climate change

Human Rights and Democracy: striving for dignity and equality around the world

Questions directors need to ask in the age of stakeholder capitalism

Human traffickers in Libya are posing as UN staff, says Refugee Agency

Amazon on fire: the interference in global health

A few, or rather two, trade and economic alliances may rule our brave new world

Latin America and Caribbean region deadliest for journalists in 2019

4 myths about manufacturing in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Youth Guarantee putting young people in jobs

Can cybersecurity offer value for money?

Africa must become more resilient to climate risk. Here’s how

Ireland: prepare now for rising fiscal pressures, external risks

Why our future relies on more inclusive and transparent innovation

Coronavirus global response: EU allocates additional €50 million in humanitarian aid

Mobile health technology: Advances, Facilitations and Promotion of Autonomy

Except Poland, can climate change also wait until 2021 for the EU Market Stability Reserve to be launched?

Fragile countries risk being ‘stuck in a cycle of conflict and climate disaster,’ Security Council told

COVID-19 Wave III: Were the lessons learned from last year any useful?

Commission welcomes the political agreement on the transitional rules for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

Berlin ‘orders’ the EU Parliament to compromise

How music can help children with autism connect

EU to Telcos: Stop Mergers and Acquisitions but please help me urgently with 5G development

US-China trade war at point of no return: Washington’s demands go beyond tariffs

European markets itchy with short-term disturbances

Ten reasons to be optimistic in 2019

From UN Assembly podium, Central African Republic leader appeals for lifting arms embargo

Parliament elects the von der Leyen Commission

4 reasons cities should embrace Universal Basic Income

UN chief condemns terror attack in Kismayo, Somalia

Facts, not fear, will stop COVID-19 – so how should we talk about it?

To realise the full potential of AI, we must regulate it differently

What is the Coral Triangle?

8 steps towards a sustainable economic recovery

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