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EU Authorities Direct Tech Giants To Submit Reports Regarding ‘Fake News’

U.S. technology giants have committed millions of dollars, tens of thousands of employees and what they say are their best technical efforts into fighting fake news

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European Commissioner for Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip, left, and European Commissioner for Justice Vera Jourova participate in a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels. VOA

European Union (EU) authorities want internet companies including Google, Facebook and Twitter to file monthly reports on their progress eradicating “fake news” campaigns from their platforms ahead of elections next year.

Officials from the EU’s executive Commission unveiled the measures Wednesday as part of an action plan to counter disinformation in the lead up to the continent-wide vote in the spring.

The internet companies will have to submit their reports from January until May, when hundreds of millions of people in 27 EU member countries are scheduled to vote for 705 lawmakers in the bloc’s parliament.

The Commission singled out Russia.

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An advertisement in The New York Times is displayed on Sunday, March 25, 2018, in New York. Facebook’s CEO apologized for the Cambridge Analytica scandal with ads in multiple U.S. and British newspapers. VOA

“There is strong evidence pointing to Russia as a primary source of disinformation in Europe,” said Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip.

Many EU member countries have taken action to combat disinformation, but now “we need to work together and coordinate our efforts,” he said.

Russian authorities have repeatedly rejected Western accusations of sponsoring disinformation campaigns and described them as part of Western efforts to smear the country.

Other measures include a new “rapid alert system,” beefing up budgets, and adding expert staff and data analysis tools.

Google, Facebook, Twitter and browser maker Mozilla are the companies that so far have signed up to a voluntary EU code of conduct on fighting disinformation.

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We don’t remove content for being false: Facebook. Flickr Common

They’ll be expected to report on how they’re carrying out commitments they made under the code, including their work on making political advertising more transparent and how many fake and bot accounts they have identified and shut down. They’ll also provide updates on their cooperation with fact-checkers and academic researchers to uncover disinformation campaigns.

Google, which declined to comment, has tightened up requirements for political ads in the EU, including requiring information on who paid for them and for buyers to verify their identities. Facebook, which did not respond to a request for comment, did the same for political ads in Britain.

Also Read: WhatsApp Partners With DEF To Train Community Leaders in Order To Tackle Fake News

U.S. technology giants have committed millions of dollars, tens of thousands of employees and what they say are their best technical efforts into fighting fake news, propaganda and hate that has proliferated on their digital platforms.

“We need to see the internet platforms step up and make some real progress on their commitments,” said Julian King, the EU security commissioner. If there’s not enough headway, the Commission would consider other options including regulation, he said. (VOA)

Next Story

Facebook Loves Your Data, and Rakes in Moolah Every Year

Facebook is facing scrutiny after personal data of 87 million users were harvested by UK-based political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has slapped Facebook with a $5 billion fine as a result of the breach

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An iPhone displays the app for Facebook in New Orleans, Aug. 11, 2019. VOA

Our data is invaluable to Facebook and the social networking giant earned $157.41 average revenue per user (ARPU) in the US and Canada in the past five quarters.

In comparison, Facebook earned only $15 average revenue per user in Asia-Pacific in the same time period, it Q3 2019 earnings have revealed.

Facebook is earning triple the revenue from its US users as from its users in Europe where average revenue per user was mere $50.73 in the last five quarters.

“Part of that is attributable to the fact that American consumers spend more in general — per capita consumption in the US is about 80 per cent higher than in Europe,” reports Slate.

Facebook has nearly 1.62 billion daily active users and 2.4 billion monthly active users.

A cache of recently leaked Facebook documents, obtained by NBC News, showed how the CEO Mark Zuckerberg oversaw plans to consolidate the social network’s power by treating users’ data as a bargaining chip.

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The Facebook mobile app on an Android smartphone. Wikimedia Commons

This trove comprises approximately 7,000 pages in total, of which about 4,000 are internal Facebook communications such as emails, web chats, notes, presentations and spreadsheets, primarily from 2011 to 2015.

About 1,200 pages are marked as “highly confidential”.

According to the report, the emails, notes and other documents dated as far back as 2011 and were supposed to be kept out of the public eye pending the civil case in California.

Despite dismissing Tinder co-founder Sean Rad as irrelevant, Zuckerberg also allowed the dating app special access to user data, as revealed by leaked exchanges.

Access to Facebook data helped Tinder thrive, but there came a point when it inched closer to losing that access.

The leaked correspondence was part of a long-running lawsuit in California state court, between former Facebook app developer Six4three and Facebook.

Corporate, America, Climate Change
FILE – In this April 30, 2019, file photo, Facebook stickers are laid out on a table at F8, Facebook’s developer conference in San Jose, Calif. VOA

In 2014, Facebook, which is facing several antitrust investigations, announced a new set of rules to prevent third-party app developers from getting access to data on users’ friends. The social networking giant set May 2015 as the deadline for complying with the new rules. But some firms continued to have access to the crucial data, including Tinder.

In yet another data breach, Facebook earlier this month revealed that at least 100 app developers may have accessed users’ data for months, confirming that at least 11 partners “accessed group members’ information in the last 60 days”.

Also Read: Bill Gates Officially Surpasses Jeff Bezos as Richest Person on Earth: Report

The social networking giant found that the apps — primarily social media management and video streaming apps — retained access to group member information, like names and profile pictures in connection with group activity, from the Groups API (application programming interface).

Facebook is facing scrutiny after personal data of 87 million users were harvested by UK-based political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has slapped Facebook with a $5 billion fine as a result of the breach. (IANS)