The European Commission has asked Facebook, Twitter, Google and other social media companies to report monthly on COVID-19 related disinformation on their platforms.
The European Union’s executive body asked these companies to provide monthly reports that include more detailed data on their actions to promote authoritative content, improve users’ awareness, and limit coronavirus disinformation and advertising related to it.
“They should also step up their cooperation with fact-checkers – in all Members States, for all languages – and researchers, and be more transparent about implementation of their policies to inform users that interact with disinformation,” the commission said in a statement late Wednesday.
Building on the work of the newly established European Digital Media Observatory, the EU will further strengthen its support to fact-checkers and researchers.
The European Commission was tasked in March to resolutely counter disinformation and reinforce resilience of European societies.
The coronavirus pandemic has been accompanied by a massive wave of false or misleading information, including attempts by foreign actors to influence EU citizens and debates, said the commission.
“Disinformation in times of the coronavirus can kill. We have a duty to protect our citizens by making them aware of false information, and expose the actors responsible for engaging in such practices,” said Josep Borrell, High Representative and Vice-President.
“In today’s technology-driven world, where warriors wield keyboards rather than swords and targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns are a recognised weapon of state and non-state actors, the European Union is increasing its activities and capacities in this fight,” he added.
The commission said that disinformation waves have hit Europe during the Coronavirus pandemic that originated from within as well as outside the EU.
“To fight disinformation, we need to mobilise all relevant players from online platforms to public authorities, and support independent fact checkers and media. While online platforms have taken positive steps during the pandemic, they need to step up their efforts,” said Vera Jourova, Vice-President for Values and Transparency.