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EU Renews Calls to Facebook, Twitter to Fight Fake News

Stephanie Bodoni and Marie Mawad
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EU Renews Calls to Facebook, Twitter to Fight Fake News

(Bloomberg) -- European Union regulators have once again demanded Twitter Inc., Facebook Inc. and Google do more to fight disinformation on the internet and help regulators check the effectiveness of the actions taken.

The European Commission requires “more systematic information” from platforms to check the placement of advertisements and “to better understand the effectiveness of the actions taken against bots and fake accounts,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.

“We encourage online platforms to work with researchers and fact-checkers on access to live information on public pages, streams and other services, as well as on data on inauthentic accounts they have identified and removed,” EU Commissioners Julian King, Vera Jourova, Mariya Gabriel, and Andrus Ansip said in a joint statement.

Twitter, along with Facebook and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, signed a code of conduct in September pledging to fight disinformation online in Europe. Google and Facebook have also started to deploy transparency tools for political ads in Europe after an initial roll-out in the U.S., including disclaimers under the ads and requiring ID checks from advertisers.

Executives from Facebook have been touring Europe, with stops in Berlin, Brussels and Paris, to detail how the company is ramping up its anti-fake news efforts and upgrading ads policies ahead of the region’s May elections.

“In the lead up to elections around the world, and particularly the EU elections, we’re doing a lot of work on reducing the distribution of fake news, cracking down on fake accounts, making advertising more transparent, disrupting bad actors and supporting an informed electorate,” Katie Harbath, Facebook’s public policy director for global elections, said in a briefing with reporters in Paris on Wednesday.

Facebook will vet political advertisers in Europe starting later this month, following rollouts in the U.S. and U.K. Starting in May, Facebook will publish weekly reports about political ads in each European country, including a list of advertisers and how much they’ve spent, Harbath said.

“We usually see the bulk of fake news activity in the one or two weeks before an election,” Harbath said. Facebook is preparing by intensifying coordination between local teams and its taskforce of about 30,000 people dedicated to safety and security.

The European Commission, the European Union’s executive body, has threatened to propose legislation in the area if the platforms’ efforts on misinformation are unsatisfactory.

(Updated with Facebook briefing in Paris, in fifth paragraph.)

To contact the reporters on this story: Stephanie Bodoni in Brussels at sbodoni@bloomberg.net;Marie Mawad in Paris at mmawad1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net, Giles Turner, Nate Lanxon

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