Google, Facebook agree on EU ‘fake news’ code of conduct

European Digital Commissioner Mariya Gabriel
European Digital Commissioner Mariya Gabriel
European Digital Commissioner Mariya Gabriel
European Digital Commissioner Mariya Gabriel

On Wednesday, 26 September 2018 major tech companies including Facebook and Google agreed on a code of conduct to combat online disinformation in the European Union, although critics said the commitments were too weak.

According to Reuters, seven months before the European elections, the code published by the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, called in particular for the withdrawal of advertising revenues from disseminators of “fake news”.

However, a group of media advisors criticised the companies, also including Twitter and lobby groups for the advertising industry for failing to present more concrete measures.

In addition, companies agreed that the source of adverts should be clearly labelled and also agreed to closer scrutiny of ad content disseminated on platforms.

They will also track the misuse of automated bots to distribute fake news and expand the possibility for users to lodge complaints about suspect posts.

European Digital Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said on Wednesday that Facebook, Google, Twitter, Mozilla and advertising groups – which she did not name – had responded with several measures.

“The industry is committing to a wide range of actions, from transparency in political advertising to the closure of fake accounts and …we welcome this,” she said in a statement.

Gabriel maintained her threat of EU regulation if the voluntary commitment did not swiftly lead to tangible results.

EU sources said Facebook and Google, including its video sharing site Youtube, have so far backed the code of conduct, with big tech lobby Edima also one of the signatories.

The push against fake news by the European Commission gained traction this year after a scandal involving the illegal harvesting of Facebook users’ data in the election campaign of US President Donald Trump.

Edited by Neo Sesinye
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