Europe: Hindering the Spread of Fake News

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Two years after agreeing to a self-regulatory code of practice to tackle disinformation, Facebook, Alphabet’s Google, Twitter and other tech rivals must try harder to be more effective, the European Commission said. 

Fake news related to COVID-19 accelerated calls for the social media companies to be more proactive. The companies, including Mozilla and trade bodies for the advertising industry, agreed to the code in 2018 to stave off stricter regulation. Microsoft and TikTok also joined the group. 

The code has several shortcomings, according to a commission assessment of its first year in operation. “These can be grouped in four broad categories: inconsistent and incomplete application of the code across platforms and member states, lack of uniform definitions, existence of several gaps in the coverage of the code commitments, and limitations intrinsic to the self-regulatory nature of the code,” the report said. 

Vera Jourova, commission vice president for values and transparency, called for more action to counter new risks. 

“As we also witness new threats and actors, the time is ripe to go further and propose new measures. The platforms need to become more accountable and transparent. They need to open up and provide better access to data, among others,” said Jourova, who is working on a plan to make democracy more resilient to digital threats. 

The commission is also developing rules to increase social media companies’ responsibilities and liability for platform content.  Reuters

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