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Brussels mulls action to protect public from fake news

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Brussels mulls action to protect public from fake news

Photo © Anatoly Vartanov - Fotolia

(BRUSSELS) - The EU Commission launched a consultation on fake news and online disinformation Monday, setting up an expert group representing academics, online platforms, news media and civil society groups.

While acknowledging the contribution that online platforms and other internet services have made in providing new ways for people to connect, debate and to gather information, the EU executive says the spread of news to intentionally mislead readers has become an increasing problem for the way democracies function, and are affecting peoples' understanding of reality.

"We live in an era where the flow of information and misinformation has become almost overwhelming," said Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans: "That is why we need to give our citizens the tools to identify fake news, improve trust online, and manage the information they receive."

A balanced approach is needed, adds Andrus Ansip,vice-president for the Digital Single Market, "between the freedom of expression, media pluralism and a citizens' right to access diverse and reliable information. All the relevant players like online platforms or news media should play a part in the solution."

The results of the public consultation and the work of the group are to contribute to the development of an EU-level strategy on how to tackle the spreading of fake news. which is to be presented in spring 2018.

Citizens, social media platforms, news organisations (broadcasters, print media, news agencies, online media and fact-checkers), researchers and public authorities are all invited to share their views in the public consultation until mid-February. It will gather opinions on what actions could be taken at EU level to give citizens effective tools to identify reliable and verified information and adapt to the challenges of the digital age.

Contributions are expected in three main areas:

  • The scope of the problem, i.e. how fake news is perceived by citizens and stakeholders, how they are aware of online disinformation, or how they trust different media
  • Assessment of measures already taken by platforms, news media companies and civil society organisations to counter the spread of fake news online, as well as positions on the roles and responsibilities of the relevant stakeholders
  • Possible future actions to strengthen citizens access to reliable and verified information and prevent the spread of disinformation online

The Commission makes clear that the consultation only addresses fake news and disinformation online when the content is not per se illegal and thus not covered by existing EU or national legislative and self-regulatory actions.

The Commission is inviting experts to apply for the High-Level Group on fake news to advise the Commission on scoping the phenomenon, defining the roles and responsibilities of relevant stakeholders, grasping the international dimension, taking stock of the positions at stake, and formulating recommendations. As far as possible, the group should include several representatives of each field of expertise, be it academia or civil society delegate. The Commission aims at a balanced selection of the experts.

The call for application is open until mid-December. The High-Level Expert Group is expected to start in January 2018 and will work over several months.

Public Consultation


Document Actions

Economic growth in EU and BREXIT

Posted by Stoyan Antonov at 14 November 2017, 19:44 CET
well, it is hard to understand if EU's economy grows so good, why then British exit the Union? I was there when they voted and I believe most grounds for their vote to leave were based on poor economic outlook.