The European Commission has taken Google, Facebook and Twitter to task for failing to act quickly in efforts to clamp down on so-called ‘fake news’.
As signatories to the code of practice against disinformation in October last year, Google, Facebook and Twitter were tasked by the EU to quickly and efficiently clamp down on the spread of disinformation across social media ahead of key European elections. However, a series of reports published by the European Commission (EC) has criticised the three companies for falling way behind on their commitments to tackle so-called ‘fake news’.
“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 reports provide too little information on the actual results of the measures already taken,” the EC said.
It added: “Finally, the platforms have failed to identify specific benchmarks that would enable the tracking and measurement of progress in the EU. The quality of the information provided varies from one signatory of the code to another, depending on the commitment areas covered by each report. This clearly shows that there is room for improvement for all signatories.”
Regulations may come
Included among the main findings was the belief that Facebook has not fulfilled its promise of conducting greater scrutiny of ad placements on its platform, but has promised that a pan-EU archive for political and issue advertising will be available in March of this year.
Meanwhile, Google was called out for not being specific enough in the data it was to provide regarding its own ad placements. According to the report, the provided data did not clarify the extent to which the actions were taken to address disinformation and has not provided proof of any concrete implementation of actions for January this year.
Finally, Twitter received flak from the EC for not providing any metrics on its own attempts to stem the tide of disinformation. Despite announcing plans in January, the report said the social network has failed to provide any benchmarks for which it will measure progress against fraudulent or misleading political ads.
The three companies had originally agreed to the code of practice against disinformation as a way to avoid having to face strict regulation. However, the EC has said that if the monthly reports “prove unsatisfactory”, it “may propose further actions, including of a regulatory nature”.