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EU must work harder to tackle disinformation

- July 2, 2019 in disinformation, eu, News

The European Union must work harder to tackle the spread of disinformation on the internet, the Open Knowledge Foundation has warned. In a letter to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, chief executive Catherine Stihler has called for action to be ‘prioritised’ regarding online platforms that fail to do enough to tackle disinformation or do not fulfil promises made. She said ‘no sufficient progress has been made in developing tools to increase the transparency and trustworthiness of websites hosting adverts’, and Google and Twitter need to take steps to ensure the transparency of issue-based advertising. The letter comes after disinformation was discussed at last month’s European Council summit. Catherine Stihler, chief executive of the Open Knowledge Foundation, said:
“Words are not enough in this battle to build a fair, free and open future. It is essential that the European Commission prioritises action regarding online platforms that fail to do enough to tackle disinformation or do not fulfil promises made. I firmly believe the institutions of the European Union must use their influence to force online platforms to provide more detailed information allowing the identification of malign actors, put pressure on Google and Twitter to increase transparency, and encourage closer working with fact checkers to prevent the spread of disinformation. The best way to tackle disinformation is to make information open, allowing journalists, developers and the research community to carry out analysis of disinformation operations.

With upcoming national elections across the EU, this is of paramount importance to help rebuild trust in politics and build a fair, free and open future.”

Facebook challenged to tackle the spread of ‘fake news’ ahead of vital European elections

- February 26, 2019 in disinformation, fake news, Featured, News, Open Knowledge

Facebook’s global affairs boss Sir Nick Clegg has been challenged to tackle the spread of ‘fake news’ on Facebook ahead of vital European elections.

Catherine Stihler, chief executive of Open Knowledge International and a former MEP, has written to the former Deputy Prime Minister to request more transparency from Facebook and its assistance in resuscitating the three foundations of ‘tolerance, facts and ideas’.

Facebook has been at the centre of a series of rows about disinformation on social media, particularly in connection with the 2016 Brexit referendum.

Ms Stihler has asked for detailed statistics on efforts by Facebook to tackle disinformation, an update on the number of fake accounts the platform continues to host, what progress is being made on working with third-part fact-checkers in the EU27, and a response to this week’s Commons report which concluded that Facebook needs stricter regulation to end the spread of ‘fake news’.

In her letter to Sir Nick, Catherine Stihler wrote:

“It is imperative that we do not allow disinformation and fake news to blight this year’s European Parliamentary elections.

The acceptance of basic facts is under threat, with many expert views dismissed and a culture of ‘anti-intellectualism’ from those on the extremes of politics.

The way forward is to resuscitate the three foundations of tolerance, facts and ideas, to prevent the drift to the extremes, and Facebook has a vital role to play in that.

With the rise of extremist parties across the continent, we owe it to the people of Europe to let the facts be heard in the run-up to these crucial elections.”

On 11 February, Open Knowledge International joined a group of 35 organizations led by Mozilla that published an open letter to Facebook. Our ask to Facebook: make good on your promises to provide more transparency around political advertising ahead of the 2019 EU Parliamentary Elections. You can read the full letter and add your signature here if you wish to add your support to the campaign.