May 8, 2020 / 8:49 PM / a month ago

EU should beef up fake news pledge involving Google, Facebook, Twitter -study

BRUSSELS, May 8 (Reuters) - The European Union should strengthen a voluntary pledge, to which Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc's Google and Twitter Inc signed up to combat fake news, with sanctions to make it a more effective tool, a study done for the European Commission said on Friday.

The three U.S. tech giants, together with Mozilla and trade bodies representing the advertising industry, agreed in October 2018 on a self-regulatory code of practice to tackle disinformation in a bid to stave off heavy-handed legislation.

The EU executive has acknowledged the companies' efforts via regular reports but also urged them to do more. Last year, it commissioned a study to look in to the matter.

The study said the code should continue as a basis for further action but noted some shortcomings.

Key among these are the code's self-regulatory nature, the lack of uniformity of implementation and the lack of clarity around its scope and some of the key concepts, the study conducted by consultancy Valdani, Vicari and Associates (VVA) said.

It recommended giving some teeth to the code to ensure compliance.

"The European Commission should consider proposals for co-regulation within which appropriate enforcement mechanisms, sanctions and redress mechanisms should be established," the study said.

Tech lobbying group EDiMA said the code should not be abandoned.

"The outcomes of the code of practice have shown that it is an effective way to address the spread of online disinformation and fake news," Director General Siada El Ramly said. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee in Brussels Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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