Sat | Dec 15, 2018

EU steps up fight against ‘fake news’ ahead of elections

Published:Wednesday | December 5, 2018 | 12:22 PM
European Commissioner for Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip (left) and European Commissioner for Justice Vera Jourova participate in a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, December 5, 2018. The European Commission on Wednesday reported on an Action Plan to counter disinformation and the progress achieved so far. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union authorities want Internet companies including Google, Facebook and Twitter to file monthly reports on their progress eradicating “fake news” campaigns from their platforms ahead of elections next year.

Officials from the EU’s executive Commission unveiled the measures Wednesday as part of an action plan to counter disinformation in the lead up to the continent-wide vote in the spring.

The Internet companies will have to submit their reports from January until May when hundreds of millions of people in 27 EU member countries are scheduled to vote for 705 lawmakers in the bloc’s parliament.

The Commission singled out Russia.

“There is strong evidence pointing to Russia as a primary source of disinformation in Europe,” said Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip.

Many EU member countries have already taken action to combat disinformation, but now “we need to work together and coordinate our efforts,” he said.

Russian authorities have repeatedly rejected Western accusations of sponsoring disinformation campaigns and described them as part of Western efforts to smear the country.

Other measures include a new “rapid alert system,” beefing up budgets and adding expert staff and data analysis tools.

Google, Facebook, Twitter and browser maker Mozilla are the companies that so far have signed up to a voluntary EU code of conduct on fighting disinformation.

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