Home Tech The EU puts pressure on Meta for fear of Russian interference in the elections

The EU puts pressure on Meta for fear of Russian interference in the elections

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The EU puts pressure on Meta for fear of Russian interference in the elections

Fears that Vladimir Putin is trying to pack the European Parliament with more pro-Russian MEPs were behind the EU’s blunt message to Facebook’s owner in Silicon Valley on Tuesday.

It gave Meta just five days to explain how it will remove fake news, fake websites and stop Kremlin-funded ads or face crackdown.

Forty days before the European parliamentary elections – and during a year in which countries with more than half of the world’s population go to the polls – behind the warning were deep concerns about how Facebook is dealing with fake news.

technology/2024/apr/29/eu-to-investigate-meta-over-election-misinformation-ahead-of-june-polls"},"ajaxUrl":"https://api.nextgen.guardianapps.co.uk","format":{"display":0,"theme":0,"design":6}}" config="{"renderingTarget":"Web","darkModeAvailable":false,"assetOrigin":"https://assets.guim.co.uk/"}"/>

“The integrity of the elections is a priority for law enforcement,” said Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, warning that the European Commission would respond quickly if Facebook did not rectify the problems within a week.

“We expect Meta to inform us of the actions they are taking to address these risks within five business days or we will take all necessary measures to defend our democracy,” he said.

Today we open cases against #Goal for suspected non-compliance #DSA obligations to protect the integrity of elections:

▪️Inadequate ad moderation exploited for foreign interference and scams

▪️Inadequate access to data to monitor elections

▪️Unsupported tool for flagging illegal content pic.twitter.com/ZJHWNDm2MD

— Thierry Breton (@ThierryBreton) April 30, 2024

The commission confirmed it had launched formal proceedings against Meta as time approaches for elections to be held across Europe from June 6-9.

The commission is extremely concerned that Russia will use Facebook, which has more than 250 million monthly active users, to try to tilt votes in its favor.

As Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said earlier this month following a formal investigation into alleged Kremlin payments to MEPs, Russia’s goal is “very clear”: to help “elect more pro-Russian candidates to the European Parliament.” . parliament”.

Officials declined to give precise examples, but some are egregious, including ads paid for by foreign agents.

“It is fundamentally wrong that [Facebook] “We are making money from this,” an official said.

They also say that tools to flag illegal or suspicious content are not visible enough.

Links to fake news platforms, known as “dual sites”, are not removed quickly enough or at all, the EU suggests.

Last week, the website of a Czech news agency was hacked to display fake news including claims that an assassination attempt on the Slovak president had been thwarted.

At the same time, French Europe Minister Jean-Noël Barrot said the country was being “hit” by Russian propaganda with “deliberate maneuvers to disrupt public debate and interfere in the campaign for the European elections.”

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Another concern at Facebook is Meta’s decision to “suppress” speech in an effort to de-risk user-generated content on sensitive topics like the Middle East.

This is known as a “shadow ban” and the EU wants Facebook to be more transparent in justifying these decisions.

“Users need to know when it happens and they need to be able to appeal, otherwise it’s a discursive risk,” one official said.

He is also concerned that Facebook was planning to suspend a service called CrowdTangle that helped fact-checkers, journalists and researchers monitor misinformation.

Tuesday’s proceedings against Facebook are the sixth launched by the European Commission since the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA) came into force.

But is it enough to stop the lies? Even NATO officials, at a panel in Brussels in February, said they were treating disinformation as a weapon as potent as bullets and missiles.

Officials say it’s not that Facebook is “doing nothing,” but rather that the measures in place are weak, opaque and not effective enough.

Under sweeping new laws under the DSA, which came into force in August, the EU can fine social media companies up to 6% of their revenue or ban them entirely from the union.

Facebook said: “We have a well-established process to identify and mitigate risks on our platforms. “We look forward to continuing our cooperation with the European Commission and providing them with further details of this work.”

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