A European approach to the digital transformation
The European Commission’s digital strategy is out, which outlines how the EU intends to provide more transparency on the ways in which information is shared and managed online, strengthen the responsibility of platforms, and clarify rules for online services. As part of the policymaking process, the Commission will open a consultation on the Digital Services Act in March.
Among its digital priorities, the Commission also released a White Paper on AI favouring a human-centric approach to AI, which encompasses greater oversight, algorithmic transparency, and ethical requirements to mitigate risks to fundamental rights. An online consultation on the White Paper is now open.
Finally, the Commission’s new data strategy aims to provide fair and clear rules on data access and explore ways to achieve a European Dataspace by making more non-personal data available and giving citizens better control over their AI-generated data. An online consultation on the strategy is now open.
Online content regulation: Facebook weighs in
Zuckerberg’s meetings with European Commissioners last Monday apparently didn’t go too well. Internal market Commissioner Thierry Breton told reporters “It’s not for us to adapt to this company, it’s for this company to adapt to us” after meeting with Zuckerberg. On the same day, Facebook released its white paper on online content regulation, later regarded as “not enough” by Breton. In this context, Facebook outlined five principles for regulators to take into consideration: incentives, the global nature of the internet, freedom of expression, technology, and proportionality and necessity. Protocol has summarised what Facebook actually means by this paper.
In the news
- According to NBC News, Twitter is experimenting with new methods to fight misinformation. These include adding brightly coloured labels directly beneath misinformation posted by politicians and other public figures, as well as a community-based points system, which would reward tweets that provide critical context to information. Still, some critics have pointed out why it won’t work.
- Last week, disinformation caused riots in Ukraine due to the circulation of a fake email claiming to be from the health ministry, which had falsely stated that Ukrainian evacuees from Wuhan had contracted Coronavirus, resulting in protesters attacking the buses that carried the evacuees.
- DFRLab looked into the legacy of Stratcom — a South African government communications department active during the Apartheid — to understand how South African political actors play on the country’s history of disinformation and propaganda to sow media distrust among the public today.
- QAnon followers have deployed an information warfare campaign to influence the 2020 US election by spreading memes, generating hashtags and creating sockpuppet social media accounts to support Donald Trump’s reelection. “They build lists of hashtags to target, generate content and memes relating to the day’s political developments, and share advice about how to create new social media accounts with plausible fake personas,” Wired’s Elise Thomas writes.
- According to a Brown University study that’s yet to be published, a quarter of all tweets about the climate crisis are produced by bots. This study analysed millions of tweets from around the period when Donald Trump announced the US would withdraw from the Paris agreement and found that bots tended to applaud the president and spread misinformation about the science.
- How fake videos unravelled Pakistan’s war on polio: as part of a new series on health misinformation, First Draft explores the reasons behind vaccine hesitancy in Pakistan, which has underpinned the recent influx of staged videos showing, for example, children falling sick after a polio vaccination. In related news, Coda Story has released a visual history of the global anti-vaxxer movement.
Events and Announcements
- Carnegie Endowment’s Partnership for Countering Influence Operations (PCIO) aims to foster a community of multidisciplinary, cross-sectoral expertise. To do this, PCIO would like to know who you see as the leaders in the disinfo space and better understand the challenges you face. Complete the survey here.
- 3 March @ Brussels, Belgium – Mozilla Mornings on the EU Digital Services Act: Making responsibility a reality.
- 10 March @ Brussels, Belgium – Get your facts straight! Fighting disinformation and fake news through media literacy. Clara, our Advocacy Coordinator, will be speaking on a panel, come by and say hello!
- 12 March @ New York, USA – Sexualised Disinformation: Social Media, Gender Equality, and Women’s Leadership.
- 22 April @ Brussels, Belgium – European Internet Forum breakfast debate: Content moderation and freedom of speech.