The European Commission on November 13 launched a public consultation on fake news and online disinformation and set up a High-Level Expert Group representing academics, online platforms, news media and civil society organisations.
The group’s work, as well as the results of the public consultation, will contribute to the development of an EU-level strategy on how to tackle the spreading of fake news, to be presented in spring 2018.
“The freedom to receive and impart information and the pluralism of the media are enshrined in the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights,” said First Vice-President Frans Timmermans. “We live in an era where the flow of information and misinformation has become almost overwhelming. That is why we need to give our citizens the tools to identify fake news, improve trust online, and manage the information they receive.”
In turn, Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said: “We need to find a balanced approach between the freedom of expression, media pluralism and a citizens’ right to access diverse and reliable information. All the relevant players like online platforms or news media should play a part in the solution.”
According to Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner responsible for Digital Economy and Society, her actions lie in the defence of citizens’ rights to quality information which is a cornerstone of our democracies.
“I want to have an open and broad discussion about fake news to address this complex phenomenon in order to overcome the challenges ahead of us,” she said.
According to a European Commission press release, EU citizens, social media platforms, news organisations (broadcasters, print media, news agencies, online media and fact-checkers), researchers and public authorities are all invited to share their views in the public consultation until mid-February.
The Commission is also inviting experts to apply for the High-Level Group on fake news to advise on scoping the phenomenon, defining the roles and responsibilities of relevant stakeholders, grasping the international dimension, taking stock of the positions at stake, and formulating recommendations. The call for application is open until mid-December. The High-Level Expert Group is expected to start in January 2018 and will work over several months.