EU Targets Facebook and Instagram for Election Disinformation

Written by Camilla Jessen

Apr.30 - 2024 2:21 PM CET

Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is under scrutiny by the European Commission.

Trending Now

Meta Platforms, the company behind Facebook and Instagram, is being investigated by the European Commission for not doing enough to stop false information and deceptive ads before the upcoming European Parliament elections.

The EU's inquiry focuses on whether Meta has broken the Digital Services Act (DSA), which demands that big tech companies tackle illegal and harmful content more effectively on their platforms.

This development was reported by Reuters.

EU's Crackdown on Digital Giants

The investigation focuses on Meta's alleged inadequacies in managing harmful content and disinformation, particularly from external influences like Russia, China, and Iran, as well as internal sources within the EU.

The Digital Services Act, which came into effect last year, mandates that large tech companies enhance their efforts to counter illegal content or face penalties as severe as 6% of their global annual turnover.

Specific Allegations and Meta's Response

The EU's specific concerns include the operation of a Russia-based influence network known as Doppelganger, which creates clones of legitimate media outlets. Meta reported in 2022 that it had blocked tens of thousands of links associated with this network.

Despite these actions, the European Commission criticizes Meta for insufficient moderation practices and a lack of transparency in its advertising and content moderation procedures.

EU digital chief Margrethe Vestager highlighted these issues in a statement, saying, "We suspect that Meta's moderation is insufficient, that it lacks transparency of advertisements and content moderation procedures. So today, we have opened proceedings against Meta to assess their compliance with the Digital Services Act."

In defense, a Meta spokesperson stated, "We have a well-established process for identifying and mitigating risks on our platforms. We look forward to continuing our cooperation with the European Commission and providing them with further details of this work."

Broader Implications for Digital Regulation

This investigation is part of a broader effort by the EU to regulate major tech companies more stringently, ensuring they contribute positively to the information ecosystem, especially in the sensitive context of elections.

The Commission is also concerned about the non-availability of an effective third-party real-time civic discourse and election-monitoring tool, as well as the phasing out of Meta’s disinformation tracking tool, CrowdTangle, without a sufficient replacement.

Meta is required to respond within five working days with details of the actions taken to rectify the issues raised by the Commission.

Most Read