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EU Takes Aim at Facebook and Instagram Over Election Misinformation

Election Misinformation

Meta Platforms, which owns Facebook and Instagram, is being investigated by the European Commission. The Commission says these social media sites didn't do enough to stop false information and misleading ads before the European Parliament elections. The EU's tech regulators started this investigation because they're worried about countries like Russia, China, and Iran spreading false information.


They're also concerned about some political groups within the EU that are trying to win votes by lying. This investigation comes as people are getting ready to vote for the new European Parliament from June 6 to June 9.


The Digital Services Act, which started last year, tells big technology companies to work harder to remove illegal and harmful content from their platforms. If they don't, they could be fined up to 6% of their yearly global income. The EU is specifically looking into a group from Russia called Doppelganger. This group copies real media to spread false information and was first exposed by Meta in 2022. According to people who know about this, Meta has already stopped tens of thousands of links related to this group.


Margrethe Vestager, the EU's digital leader, said that Meta's way of checking content and ads isn't good enough and isn't clear about how they decide what is allowed on their platform. Because of these concerns, the EU has started to formally check if Meta is following the rules of the Digital Services Act. Meta, which has over 250 million users in Europe every month, says that its methods to reduce risks are effective.


A spokesperson from Meta said that they have a good system in place for handling risks on their platforms and are eager to keep working with the European Commission, sharing more details about their efforts.

The Commission, however, thinks that Meta might not be meeting its responsibilities under the Digital Services Act. They are concerned that Meta hasn't done enough to stop misleading ads, false information campaigns, and fake coordinated activities in the EU.


The Commission also pointed out that there is no effective tool available for outsiders to monitor real-time discussions and election activities, which is important for the upcoming European Parliament elections. Additionally, they are worried because Meta stopped using CrowdTangle, a tool for tracking election misinformation, without having a good alternative in place.


Meta now has five working days to tell the EU what they are doing to fix these issues.


FAQs

Q1. What is the Digital Services Act?

The Digital Services Act is a set of rules that the European Union has created to make big tech companies more responsible for the content on their platforms.


Q2. Why is the EU investigating Meta?

The EU is investigating Meta because they believe Meta hasn't done enough to stop misleading ads and fake information from spreading on their platforms.


Q3. What are Meta's responsibilities under the Digital Services Act?

Under the Digital Services Act, Meta is required to actively work to remove illegal and harmful content, including false advertisements and disinformation.


Q4. What could happen to Meta if they don't follow the Digital Services Act?

If Meta does not comply with the Digital Services Act, it could be fined up to 6% of their annual global turnover.


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