EU group calls for concrete steps to tackle fake news

Madeleine de Cock Buning and Mariya Gabriel

An EU High-Level Experts Group has called for a new code of principles that online platforms should submit to in order to combat the phenomenon of ‘fake news’ and disinformation.

The group’s report, which was presented by chairwoman Madeleine de Cock Buning to European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, calls for the code to embrace 10 key principles, including a commitment to ensure transparency by explaining how algorithms select the news put forward

Platforms should also be encouraged to ake effective measures to improve the visibility of reliable, trustworthy news and facilitate users’ access to it, according to the group.

The report also called for the creation of a multi-stakeholder coalition to ensure that any agreed measures are implemented.

The submission of the report follows a public consultation launched in November last year, which confirmed findings of the latest Eurobarometer survey that consumers put least trust in social media, online news aggregators and online blogs and websites, and higher degrees of trust in newspapers and magazines, specialised websites and online publications, news agencies and public agencies.

EBU Director General Noel Curran, who was part of the High-Level Experts Group, said: “Public service media is in the front line in the fight against fake news and online disinformation.  Disinformation is severely undermining citizens’ trust in the media at large. To reverse this worrying trend, high quality researched and unbiased news content such as that of Public Service Media needs to be prominent on social networks and online platforms, which are key intermediaries in today’s digital media environment.”