Facebook, Google and Twitter are being outed by members of the European Union for not doing enough to combat misinformation. The companies are expected to give monthly reports that contain evidence for the actions taken to promote truth and impede false info.
Specifically, the EU is interested in stopping fake news linked to COVID-19.
Vera Jouruva, Vice President of the EU Commission for Values and Transparency, spoke on this issue at a press conference Wednesday, June 10th. “Disinformation (…) can negatively impact the economy and undermine the response of the public authorities and therefore weaken the health measures,” she said. She then called upon public online platforms including Google, Twitter and Facebook to strengthen their efforts in the battle against fake info.
Josep Borrell, a High Representative of the EU, was also vocal about false news regarding COVID-19. Borrell expressed that “disinformation in times of coronavirus can kill”. The grim statement served to show where the EU stands regarding COVID-19.
The Coronavirus pandemic has been accompanied by a massive infodemic. In today’s technology-driven world, warriors wield keybords rather than swords. Today we are stepping up action to increase our capacities, to counter misleading narratives. #FactsMatterhttps://t.co/UZFdR2laxu pic.twitter.com/rTuyuA5J5O
— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) June 10, 2020
Along with requesting these social media companies to help, the EU singled out Russia and China for spreading fake info. The Commission stated, “Foreign actors and certain third countries, in particular China and Russia, have engaged in targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns in the EU, its neighbourhood, and globally.”
Google, Twitter and Facebook have all responded to the EU’s call for the annihilation of false COVID-19 news.
Facebook announced, “We share the European Commission’s goal of reducing misinformation about COVID-19,” and explained their efforts to remove misinformation that could lead to “imminent physical harm.”
Twitter stated that they’ve been “engaging with the European Commission, as well as industry partners, civil society and the research community, since February specifically on COVID-19…” They also shared that they are currently strengthening how they tackle misinformation.
Google responded by revealing their cooperation with Jourova and national authorities, as well as affirming their commitment to discovering “new and creative ways to continue the fight against disinformation.”