BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Facebook (FB.O), Google (GOOGL.O) and Twitter (TWTR.N) are expected to provide monthly reports on their fight against disinformation, said two top EU officials on Wednesday, while calling on Russia and China for their roles in spreading false news.
Comments by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and European Commission vice president for values and transparency, Vera Jourova, highlight the bloc's concerns about the prevalence of misleading news about COVID-19 and the attempts of actors foreigners to influence Europe.
“It really showed that disinformation not only harms the health of our democracies, it also harms the health of our citizens. It can negatively affect the economy and impair the response of public authorities and, therefore, weaken health measures, ”said Jourova at a news conference.
She said the next front of false news was vaccination, citing a study showing that Germans' willingness to be vaccinated fell by 20 percentage points in two months.
The Commission said that online platforms should provide monthly reports detailing their actions to promote authoritative content and limit coronavirus-related misinformation and advertising.
Jourova also said that the Chinese video app TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, will join the bloc's voluntary code of conduct to combat fake news on its platform. Signatories to the code of conduct include Google, Facebook, Twitter and Mozilla.
Borrell described the fake news fight as involving warriors wielding keyboards instead of swords.
"Foreign actors and certain third countries, in particular Russia and China, have engaged in influence operations and disinformation campaigns in the EU, in the neighborhood and in the world," said the Commission.
The EU executive plans to combat foreign actors, intensifying his communication and diplomacy strategy and providing more support to free and independent media, fact reviewers and researchers.
Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; edition by Phil Blenkins