Ref. Ares(2017)2916818 - 12/06/2017
Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology
Brussels, 13 Jan. 17 Limited, via SECEM
NOTE FOR THE ATTENTION OF
Online platform policy: building trust in information flows online
Recently, the issue of online misinformation and its role in shaping public opinion has
generated considerable political and media attention,
The term 'fake news' was coined to describe deliberately constructed lies, in the
form of news articles, meant to mislead the public, or to generate online ad revenue.
There is concern by a range of commentators that such fake news stories have the ability
to weaken the quality of democratic deliberation in society. President Juncker has
recently called upon online platforms to do more to tackle such misinformation.
On 10 January, Commissioner Oettinger sent a letter (annexed here) to President Juncker,
stressing the importance of the issue, and outlining some initial policy options based on a
very preliminary analysis. With this note we seek your political orientation on the
issue of fake news and online misinformation.
One set of reflections currently in progress relates to
improvements in existing mechanisms.
However, fake news is not per se
illegal content, and therefore represents a distinct
category of material which is likely to require a dedicated approach, as any more general
obligations to take down such news from online platforms would severely limit freedom
Commission européenne/Europese Commissie, 1049 Bruxelles/Brussel, BELGIQUE/BELGIË - Tel. +32 22991111
The DE Justice Ministry is reported by the media to be working on legal proposals for a
dedicated centre where fake news can be flagged, coupled even with potential fines for
non-removal by platforms such as Facebook. In Italy, the head of the competition
authority has called for an EU-wide approach and the President of the parliament is
supporting work on observatory, while the FR Senate is considering an Internet
Ombudsman type construction, although not limited specifically to the issue of fake
news. In addition, the CZ government is reportedly setting up a specialist “anti-fake
news” unit to counter alleged Russian interference ahead of their upcoming elections,
similar to the approach taken by the EastStratCom Task Force under HR/VP Mogherini.
In the area of media literacy, the European Commission has been facilitating the
visibility and exchange of media literacy good practices from Member States and
stakeholders. In 2017 the Commission – further to an initiative of the Parliament - will
also implement two pilot projects on "Media literacy for all"
Additional options could be developed, e.g.
This domain is rather new and did not form part of our reflection on platforms. Therefore we recommend further evidence gathering through a public consultation,
as a first
preliminary step, while continuing in parallel the work aiming towards more effective
removal of illegal content.
J. Lepassaar, K. Kloc, M. Frenay, J. Gren (Cab Ansip)