Misinformation: the EU will ask for accounts to the giants of the internet

Désinformation: l'UE va demander des comptes aux géants de l'internet

BRUSSELS | Brussels unveiled on Wednesday measures to fight against the misinformation related to the new coronavirus, calling the internet giants to account, and exposing campaigns of Russia and China.

The head of european diplomacy Josep Borrell and the vice-president of the Commission on values and transparency, Vera Jourova, must submit to the mid-day, this plan, which, according to a document seen by AFP, also promotes the role of “fact-checkers” as well as the pluralism and the independence of the media.

These measures fit in the context of the “action Plan for the european democracy” and “Digital Services” Act, designed to better regulate the giants of the technology, which must be presented by the end of the year by the eu executive.

According to the text seen by AFP, the EU will apply to the platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.) publish a monthly report on the actions they are implementing to combat the misinformation related to the COVID-19.

This misinformation can take the form of incorrect information of prevention (such as drinking bleach) is hazardous to the health, of so-called miracle cures, conspiracy theories, racist, promotion of fraudulent products, of online scams. It can also include campaigns on behalf of “certain third countries, in particular Russia and China,” which “seek to undermine the democratic debate, and exacerbating the polarization of society”, says the text.

The platforms are called to promote the information of the agencies of national and international health, european authorities or member States, as well as media professionals, and to inform their users of manipulation that they detect and take action against false advertising.

In 2018, these giants of the net are committed, in the framework of a “code of good practices”, launched by the eu executive, to act against the dissemination of false information.

Vera Jourova was hailed in April of the initiatives announced by Facebook and Twitter to try to curb the spread of infox in the time of a pandemic.

Facebook has put in place a system prompting a user clicking on a publication on the coronavirus labelled as “dangerous” to refer to trusted sources like the WHO site, and deleted many of the content.

Twitter for its part provides access to researchers to a specific stream of tweets related to the COVID-19 to help them in their analyses.

In the fight against the misinformation, the Commission intends to promote the activities of research and “fact-checking” (checking facts), including through the new european Observatory of digital media, which has received funding of 2.5 million euros.

This observatory, operational since the beginning of the month, is led by the european Institute university in Florence (Italy) and brings together the technology Centre of Athens, the university of Aarhus (Denmark) and the organization of verification of the facts Italian Pagella Politica.

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