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EU urges tech giants to 'go further' in fight against disinformation: report

EU urges tech giants to 'go further' in fight against disinformation: report
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The European Commission is reportedly calling on the world's biggest tech companies to do more to fight disinformation campaigns targeting users on their platforms in a new report.

Reuters reported Thursday that the commission identified several ways in which it said that tech companies' existing self-regulating code of conduct for handling misinformation or "fake news" was insufficient for dealing with the threat.

“These can be grouped in four broad categories: inconsistent and incomplete application of the code across platforms and member states, lack of uniform definitions, existence of several gaps in the coverage of the code commitments, and limitations intrinsic to the self-regulatory nature of the code,” the report reads, according to Reuters.

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A top official for the commission told Reuters in a statement that social media platforms must take further action and be more transparent about their efforts to fight disinformation.

“As we also witness new threats and actors the time is ripe to go further and propose new measures. The platforms need to become more accountable and transparent. They need to open up and provide better access to data, among others,” said Vera Jourova, the commission's vice president for values and transparency.

Representatives with Google and Facebook did not immediately return requests for comment. A Twitter spokesperson told The Hill in an emailed statement that transparency was at the "core" of the company's mission.

"Transparency is core to the work we do at Twitter. We have been engaging with the European Commission, industry partners, civil society and the research community, since February specifically on COVID-19, as well as regularly updating our blog. Uniquely, Twitter has always provided access to public data for the purposes of research, and earlier this year we released a new API endpoint around COVID-19 to enable the study of the public conversation in real-time, for free," said the spokesperson.

"In addition to signing the EU Code of Practice, we have continued to strengthen how we tackle disinformation, including investing in technology to better detect co-ordinated attempts at disinformation, disclosing all state-backed activity we find, and promoting better media literacy across the EU. Since introducing our new policies on March 18 and as we’ve doubled down on tech, our automated systems have challenged millions accounts which were targeting discussions around COVID-19 with spammy or manipulative behaviors," Twitter's statement continued.

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The U.S. social media giants have both taken steps to remove or flag widely shared videos spreading conspiracy theories about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in recent months, but have faced criticism from some for not taking action sooner.

In December, Facebook and Twitter announced the takedown of a number of fake accounts linked to a pro-Trump conspiracy website called The Epoch Times.

Updated