A “code of practice on disinformation” of the European Union – which is a voluntary agreement that details he measures to fight fake news on online platforms, was signed a year ago by Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter.
However the impact of the “self-regulatory measures” remains unclear, the EU has said in a joint statement published Tuesday alongside progress reports from the companies.
“Large-scale automated propaganda and disinformation persist and there is more work to be done under all areas of the Code,” EU Commissioners Vera Jourova, Julian King and Mariya Gabriel said the joint statement. “We cannot accept this as a new normal.”
Lawmakers around the world have in recent times, been very critical of the role played by the social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter and they have been criticized for failing to address the issue of spread of fake news and information during election campaigns.
Steps have been taken by tech companies to be more transparent, the EU however has also acknowledged. It removes millions of fake accounts every day, Facebook said in its report to the EU. The announcement of four networks of fake accounts tied to Russia and Iran had been removed by Facebook was made by the social media company earlier this month.
The company’s efforts to tackle platform manipulation were detailed by a Twitter spokesperson in a statement to the media. The company said that data relating to issues such as legal requests and rules enforcement in bi-annual transparency reports is disclosed by it.
The company is committed to working together with “government, industry, news publishers, and our community”, said a spokesperson for Facebook. “We appreciate the Commission’s extensive report, and share the same commitment to reduce the spread of online misinformation,” the statement said.
Still, in relation to disinformation and illegal content online, stricter regulations in the EU could be faced by tech companies soon. Within her first 100 days in office, a new Digital Services Act would be her priority, European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen has said. That act would upgrade “liability and safety rules for digital platforms, services and products.”
“Should the results under the Code prove unsatisfactory, the Commission may propose further measures, including of a regulatory nature,” the Commission said.
“As a founding partner with the European Union on its Code of Practice on disinformation, we’re proud to mark a year of progress since we signed the Code: expanded policies, products and resources dedicated to thwarting disinformation and other forms of attack on the integrity of our systems,” said Milan Zubíček, manager of government affairs and public policy at Google, in a statement to the media.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)