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The nomination of Ursula von der Leyen as the Commission President has raised eyebrows among those familiar with the ‘Zensursula’ scandal of 2009, which saw von der Leyen subjected to backlash over her efforts to ‘censor’ parts of the internet. Her appointment is now awaiting approval from the European Parliament through a ballot that is expected to occur the week of 15th July. Last week, newly elected MEPs decided on the vice-presidency roles of the European Parliament. Notably, this includes Katarina Barley who recently advocated for the ‘breaking up of digital monopolies through interoperability’.
Given the scepticism surrounding health-related information, Facebook published a post on how it has taken action to minimise misinformation on sensationalised health claims. This comes after Facebook announced measures to combat misinformation on vaccinations in March. Interestingly, a leading epidemiologist suggested that such actions are not substantial enough, and need to be married with a grassroots movement for rejuvenating society’s trust in vaccines, but also science in general.
Warning: artificially created!
GPT-2 – an AI fake text generator that can write paragraphs in a style based on just a sentence – has raised concerns about its potential to spread false information. In relation to this, our very own Alexandre Alaphilippe gave an interview over the weekend, suggesting that a solution would be to explicitly label the content as artificially created (interview in French). Strikingly, the US state of California has passed a law requiring bots to reveal their ‘artificial identity’ when they are used to sell a product or influence a voter.
- Le Monde has reported on how En Marche supporters radicalised their communication on social networks, with the support of anonymised fake accounts, to communicate with opponents and recruit more supporters (article in French).
- Germany is expected to fine Facebook €2 million for its failure to report on all efforts taken to remove hate speech from its platform.
- Apple’s new Facetime update now simulates eye contact between users.
- Anyone with over 30,000 social media followers is a celebrity, according to the UK Advertising Standards Authority, who now prohibit influencers from endorsing medicines.
- Through analysing data from Twitter, a researcher has suggested that exposure to Russian disinformation may have helped change American minds in favour of Trump during the 2016 US Presidential Election campaign.
- EU DisinfoLab has published its new article gathering initiatives working on disinformation from different perspectives: media literacy, fact-checking, tools, and investigation projects.
Events and Announcements
- Democracy Reporting International has announced a call for submissions covering social media and elections in Ukraine – deadline is the 10th July.
- 11 July @ Brussels, The Office: Open Society Foundations Event – The European Way of Digital: The Role of the State in Protecting Open Societies Online. Register here.
- 10 September @ Brussels, Euractiv’s Network Office: #EUINFLUENCER 2019: How has social media reshaped political communication? Register here.
- Stiftung Neue Verantwortung is hiring a Project Leader.
Picture © European Union 2013 – European Parliament