The European Union is taking issues around the internet and personal data very seriously. It wants to hold the internet giants of the world accountable for the spread of fake news.
According to Reuters, senior officials at the EU said that Facebook, Twitter, and Google should start producing monthly reports showing the prevalence of, and their efforts to curb the spread of fake news.
While there hasn’t been legislation drafted that would enforce this, the lawmakers wants these monthly reports to detail the companies’ actions to promote content you can trust while curbing misinformation. They would need to show how much advertising revenue is earned from the spreading of fake news before it is detected as well.
At a press conference this week the EU’s vice president for values and transparency, Věra Jourová, said that it “really showed that disinformation does not only harm the health of our democracies, it also harms the health of our citizens. It can negatively impact the economy and undermine the response of the public authorities and therefore weaken the health measures.”
She also said that TikTok has recently signed a code of conduct on how to fight misinformation, which mentions the company’s transparency when it comes to political advertising, fake accounts, and demonetizing those who profit on fake news. This code of conduct has already been signed by Google, Facebook and Twitter but they need to “step up their efforts.”
The speakers singled out China and Russia as primary sources for fake news and using it for nefarious purposes. “Foreign actors and certain third countries, in particular Russia and China, have engaged in targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns in the EU, its neighbourhood, and globally,” the Commission said.
With the internet giving a voice to everyone, we are still navigating how to balance the damage that fake news can do versus the suppression of free speech.