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EU: Commission, technological mobilisation and digital education to counter fake news and threats to democracy

(Strasbourg) A debate on foreign electoral interference in national and European democratic processes is on the agenda in Strasbourg. According to Czech Commissioner Vera Jourova (in charge of justice and consumer protection), although “no major interference campaign was identified” in the recent European Parliament elections, “our democratic system is threatened by external actors that may influence the freedom of our citizens, the choices of consumers through individual and collective behaviours, and therefore our economies, the relationship between citizens and science” (as in the case of vaccines). “For this reason, we must counter disinformation whilst also promoting the activities of the media”. British Commissioner Julian King (in charge of the Security Union) confirmed that “large scale automated propaganda and disinformation is unfortunately a fact”. He gave an example: during the last European electoral campaign, the online promotion of a single party in Germany (he did not give its name) led to that political party to appear in 80% of social messages and 80,000 social profiles, many of which proved to be fake. Four actions have been taken or should be improved: strengthening the rapid alert system by means of cross-border cooperation between all stakeholders; mobilising a community of analysts, researchers and programmers to better understand the phenomenon; pursuing cooperation with big platforms at the ethical and operational levels to tackle disinformation; and “promoting a more effective media education and better digital literacy among citizens”.

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