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EU still sees loopholes in Google, Twitter handling of fake news

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The European Commission on Friday identified several shortfalls in the way Facebook, Google and Twitter are handling the threat of disinformation, less than a week before European Union elections get under way.

The three social media giants have signed a voluntary EU code of conduct, pledging to take concrete steps to tackle fake news amid fears that voters could be targeted ahead of coming week’s European Parliament elections.

Since December, the commission has been issuing monthly assessments of their progress.

In Friday’s update, it welcomed measures taken to crack down on manipulative behaviour, including efforts to scrutinise political advertising.

However, the commission expressed regret that Google and Twitter had failed to develop means of flagging issue-based adverts, noting that these can be sources of divisive public debate during elections, hence prone to disinformation.

It also called on the social media giants to improve their cooperation with domestic fact-checkers and work with traditional media to develop ways of flagging trustworthy reporting and disclosing sources of information, among other things.

Following accusations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and online meddling in that year’s Brexit referendum in Britain, EU officials are concerned about efforts to manipulate coming week’s elections in favour of eurosceptic parties.

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