Today the European Commission’s High Level Panel issued its report on how to counter disinformation.
MEP Marietje Schaake (D66/ALDE) reacts: “The Panel should be commended for their focus on disinformation instead of the misguided term ‘fake news’, and for suggesting solutions that respect freedom of speech. But the report has a major omission: it does not fully address the key catalyst of the dissemination of disinformation, which are the in-transparent algorithms and the online advertising models that dominate most technology platforms. These models inherently push sensational content on newsfeeds that is often false, inaccurate, or misleading. Recent academic studies as well as empirical research show the extent to which conspiracy theories, false and hateful content are shared faster online. We need to address this elephant in the room if we want to get serious about disinformation. The European Commission can lift the veil of secrecy on the methods used by tech platforms by launching an EU-sector inquiry into platforms and online advertising revenue models. Additionally, algorithmic accountability should be provided to regulators in order to establish how profit models impact democracy, and to ensure oversight online. Principles such as freedom of expression, access to information, non-discrimination and also fair competition can only be safeguarded if we can apply oversight over algorithms.”