Google, Facebook, Twitter rapped for not doing enough in EU fake news fight

The Facebook icon is displayed in Taipei, Taiwan, 28 April 2017. According to media reports, Facebook is increasing its security to tackle fake news and abuses. [EPA/RITCHIE B. TONGO]

Facebook, Google and Twitter were reprimanded by the European Commission on Friday (17 May) for not doing enough to tackle fake news plaguing the election campaign to the European Parliament, seven months after promising to do more.

The tech giants took a voluntary pledge last October to combat the spread of fake news, hoping to avoid more heavy-handed rules. Elections to the European Parliament will be held in the 28 countries making up the European Union on May 23-26.

Foreign interference during the campaign and in national elections in Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Poland, Portugal and Ukraine in the coming months has been a key concern for the Commission and EU governments.

Greece threatens to raise Facebook’s fact-checking issue at EU Council

The Greek government has lashed out against Facebook, after the social media platform decided to partner with a “controversial” fact-checker in the country. Athens says it is now prepared to raise the issue at an EU level, unless it gets satisfactory answers.

Facebook, Google and Twitter are still falling, the EU executive said in its report on their efforts in April.

“More needs to be done to strengthen the integrity of their services, including advertising services,” the Commission’s digital chief Andrus Ansip, Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova, Security Commissioner Julian King and Digital Economy Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said in a joint statement.

“The data provided still lacks the level of detail necessary to allow for an independent and accurate assessment of how the platforms’ policies have actually contributed to reducing the spread of disinformation in the EU,” they said.

European election candidates consider next steps for EU media policy

Lead candidates for the upcoming European elections are pondering ways of safeguarding the media sector’s integrity in light of persistent economic challenges and emerging threats like Russian disinformation.

Google and Twitter were criticized for failing to develop and implement policies for identifying and disclosing issue-based ads before next week’s vote. Such ads can stoke divisive public debate during elections and are prone to disinformation.

Facebook, which took down a fake Russian network targeting Ukraine, was rapped for not saying whether the network also affected users in the EU.

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