Google, Facebook, Twitter Failing To Tackle Fake News

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The European Commission. Image credit: European Commission

Rap on the knuckles for big three, as European Commission says firms are not doing enough to tackle fake news

The European Commission has rebuked Facebook, Google and Twitter over their efforts to crack down on fake news.

All three firms have signed the EU Code of Practice against disinformation, and were asked to report monthly on their actions ahead of the European Parliament elections in May this year.

The elections come amid widespread concern at social media platforms being used to spread disinformation. These tech firms have been asked to tighten up on ad placement, transparency of political advertising, closure of fake accounts, and identifying automated bots.

Google fake news

Naughty step

The European Commission has examined the monthly reports from these firms, and said that it has found them wanting in a number of areas.

“…We need to see more progress on the commitments made by online platforms to fight disinformation,” said Andrus Ansip, VP for the digital single market, as well as a number of other Commissioners.

“Platforms have not provided enough details showing that new policies and tools are being deployed in a timely manner and with sufficient resources across all EU Member States,” the Commissioners said. “The reports provide too little information on the actual results of the measures already taken.”

“Finally, the platforms have failed to identify specific benchmarks that would enable the tracking and measurement of progress in the EU,” they added.

“The quality of the information provided varies from one signatory of the Code to another depending on the commitment areas covered by each report,” they added. “This clearly shows that there is room for improvement for all signatories.”

More data

Specifically, the Commissioners took issue with Facebook for not reporting about its scrutiny of ad placements.

Google was praised for providing data on actions taken to improve scrutiny of ad placements in the EU, but the Commissioners said that Google’s supplied metrics “are not specific enough and do not clarify the extent to which the actions were taken to address disinformation or for other reasons (e.g. misleading advertising).”

Twitter meanwhile did not provide any metrics on its commitments to improve the scrutiny of ad placements.

Last October Facebook said that it had carried out a fake news purge when it removed 559 pages and 251 accounts because of spam and “sensational political content.”

In August both Twitter and Facebook removed hundreds of accounts they said were being used to spread fake news. Those accounts were thought to be linked to both Iran and Russia.

Both Twitter and Facebook have appeared before the US congress in the past over the spread of misinformation.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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