EU to Investigate Meta Over Election Disinformation Handling

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Key Takeaways

  • The European Commission fears Meta isn’t doing enough to stop the dissemination of deliberate misinformation.
  • Meta is due to discontinue CrowdTangle, a tool often used to combat political interference.
  • Voters in the EU are set to go to the polls in June against a backdrop of increasing foreign agitation.

The European Union (EU) is set to probe Meta over the tech giant’s alleged failure to properly counter disinformation from Russia and other countries. 

As reported by the Financial Times (subscription required), the European bloc is concerned over the impact on the upcoming EU elections in June with further fears that Meta doesn’t have the required moderation setup in place to prevent political advertisers from deliberately undermining the democratic process. 

A briefing from the EU is not expected to single out Russia as the primary threat, but instead will refer in general to foreign actors.

The parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp is braced for the investigation and stated it is ready and willing to cooperate with the EU to provide information on what it is doing to identify and mitigate risks on its platforms. 

Reports have indicated the European Commission is uncomfortable with Meta’s intention to decommission CrowdTangle, a wide-ranging insights tool which allows for real-time monitoring of disinformation and fake news. It’s considered an essential resource for journalists, researchers, and academics to study and assess attempts to interfere in the electoral process across the EU.

As part of new legislation, tech companies like Meta are obliged to regulate their own platforms within the EU, with robust systems required to be vigilant for this type of activity from foreign sources.

The investigation comes just days after the European Commission conducted stress tests on all of the big social media platforms to understand if there are sufficient systems in place to guard against political disinformation. The tests are thought to have included a range of fictitious scenarios, based on genuine attempts to impact elections, including the use of “deepfakes.”

Manipulation of information and suppression of legitimate opinion by hostile agents has been earmarked by the EU as a new tactic to silence democratic discourse.

A feature from  The Guardian has touched on the backdrop of increasing disinformation which casts a shadow over the elections in Europe, which begin June 6th.

Political representatives have advised the electorate to be wary of disinformation and to spot telltale signs.