EU steps up fake news fight ahead of elections
BRUSSELS: The EU took steps on Wednesday to protect upcoming elections against disinformation campaigns from suspects like Russia, launching a bloc-wide alert system and pressuring internet giants like Facebook for more help.
Officials said their campaign will try to blunt the hatred and divisions fuelling the rise of rightwing and populist parties in a number of European countries.
“We need to be united and join our forces to protect our democracies against disinformation,” said Andrus Ansip, the EU’s vice president for the digital single market.
“We have seen attempts to interfere in elections and referenda, with evidence pointing to Russia as a primary source of these campaigns,” Ansip added.
European Union officials said they are taking steps to protect democracies and public debate ahead of elections in May to the European Parliament as well as before dozens of elections in member countries through 2020.
The European Commission, the executive arm of the 28-nation bloc, called for a system in which EU bodies and member states alert each other to disinformation in real time. Set for March, the system will allow members to share data and analysis on propaganda campaigns and promote what the bloc says will be objective communications about its values and policies. The plan will boost the Commission’s budget to tackle disinformation and raise awareness from 1.9 million euros to five million euros next year.
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