COVID-19: the strengthened actions to tackle disinformation

At the present day disinformation has already become threat and challenge to companies, society, even democracy around the world. Moreover, the situation is only getting worse.

According to the recent blunt statement released by the EU, for the period of Covid-19 pandemic a huge wave of COVID-19 related disinformation, false claims, hate speech and “targeted” campaigns to spread health hoaxes has hit social media platforms.

So Brussels wants to reinforce its response to the problem of disinformation spread, to improve communication of the problem to EU citizens and co-operation with EU member states.

According to High Representative of the Union for foreign affairs and security policy Josep Borrell: “Disinformation in times of the coronavirus can kill”. So he is of the view that EU should protect its citizens by making them aware of false information, and expose the actors responsible for engaging in such practices.

“In today’s technology-driven world, where warriors wield keyboards rather than swords and targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns are a recognised weapon of state and non-state actors, the European Union is increasing its activities and capacities in this fight.”

Vice President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová specified that disinformation campaigns originated from within as well as outside the EU. She added that “To fight disinformation, we need to mobilise all relevant players from online platforms to public authorities, and support independent fact checkers and media. While online platforms have taken positive steps during the pandemic, they need to step up their efforts. Our actions are strongly embedded in fundamental rights, in particular freedom of expression and information.”

The virus has proved to be a powerful geopolitical weapon in hands of skillful players. In this regard the EU pointed the finger at China and Russia, stating: “Foreign actors and certain third countries, in particular Russia and China, have engaged in targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns in the EU, its neighbourhood, and globally.”

The EU placed greater focus on a need for additional efforts, increased transparency and greater accountability and called on social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google to strengthen their to actions to limit coronavirus disinformation on their platforms and to remove misleading and dangerous content, to be more transparent about implementation of their policies to inform users that interact with disinformation.

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