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

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

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

UNICEF warns of ‘lost generation’ of Rohingya youth, one year after Myanmar exodus

Alexis Tsipras ready to test Eurozone’s political sturdiness; Up to what point?

Social Committee teaches Van Rompuy a lesson

EU-wide penalties for money laundering: deal with Council

2018 ‘terrifying’ for Yemenis but ultimately a ‘year for hope’ says UN Special Envoy

How the finance industry can save the world

ECB will be the catalyst of Eurozone’s reunification

London to say hello or goodbye to Brussels this week

Pervasive corruption costs $2.6 trillion; disproportionately affects ‘poor and vulnerable’ says UN chief

Cultural tolerance is a must: “No sir, I’m not inferior!”

Connectivity and collaboration in the ICT industry: the key to socio-economic development

Nitrate pollution of water sources: new impulses for EU Water Policy?

UN agencies launch emergency plan for millions of Venezuelan refugees and migrants

Do the EU policies on agro-food smell?

DR Congo: days ahead ‘critical’ to ‘historic election process’ Security Council hears

Living to 100: why we should plan for more sushi, chocolate and work

The needs, challenges and power dynamics of refugee resettlement

How our food system is eating away at nature, and our future

Gender equality, justice in law and practice: Essential for sustainable development

What the buoyant US economy means for the rest of the world

UN cooperation with League of Arab States ‘pivotal’, UN chief tells Security Council

“France will be there, it will always be there!”, French President Hollande says in a rather disorganised speech; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

This is what the gender pay gap looks like in eight countries

Posting of workers: final vote on equal pay and working conditions

In South Sudan, mothers teaching daughters ‘safer’ ways to survive rape

FROM THE FIELD: ‘Hope’ on the horizon as UN Peacekeepers push deep into Mali

Killing of Egyptian peacekeeper in Mali ‘may constitute war crimes’ Guterres warns, urging ‘swift action’

For video game addiction, now read official ‘gaming disorder’: World Health Organization

The global economy is woefully unprepared for biological threats. This is what we need to do

The power of trust and values in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

UN chief hails ‘very important role’ of Human Rights Council, as US withdraws, citing alleged bias

Technophobe or technophile? We need more conversation about digital transformation

Millions of young people need better job skills. Here’s how businesses can help

The European Sting Cookie Policy

EU prepares itself to fight back against hostile propaganda

Closing the loop: Commission delivers on Circular Economy Action Plan

UNESCO experts ready to assist reconstruction of iconic Notre Dame, following devastating blaze

South Sudan: €48.5 million in additional EU humanitarian aid

The West and Russia took what they wanted from Ukraine

No agreement in sight on EU budget

UN food relief agency airlifts aid to DR Congo province hit by Ebola outbreak

ECB’s €1.14 trillion again unifies Eurozone; Germany approves sovereign debt risks to be pooled

Cocaine and opium production worldwide hit ‘absolute record highs’ – major threat to public health says UN study

Taking fast road to ‘e-mobility’ central to a sustainable future: COP24

Veteran UN Syria Envoy to step down, pledges to work ‘until the last hour’ for peace

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

We have solutions to crime. We just need to scale them

How the digital economy is shaping a new Bangladesh

Agreement reached on new EU measures to prevent electricity blackouts

Let Nagasaki remain ‘the last city’ to suffer nuclear devastation says museum director, as UN chief arrives

Tourism offers much to the EU gets a little

Greece: The new government of Alexis Tsipras shows its colors

Restoring prospect of peace in Middle East is ‘our shared responsibility’ UN envoy tells Security Council

EU leaders let tax-evaders untouched

Trump fines China with $50 billion a year plus some more…

Lithuania needs to get rid of the victim mentality


Re-thinking citizenship education: bringing young people back to the ballot box

“Austerity was not the alternative!”, President Hannes Swoboda of the European Socialists and Democrats on another Sting Exclusive

These are the most desirable cities for overseas workers

Mali’s ‘self-defence’ groups must face justice, after deadly intercommunal attacks

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