Facebook, Google and other tech firms have agreed a code of conduct to do more to tackle the spread of fake news, due to concerns it can influence elections, the European Commission said on Wednesday.
“Intended to stave off more heavy-handed legislation, the voluntary code covers closer scrutiny of advertising on accounts and websites where fake news appears.
“Thereby working with fact checkers to filter it out,’’ the commission said.
However, a group of media advisors criticised the companies, also including Twitter and lobby groups for the advertising industry for failing to present more concrete measures.
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Brussels, with EU parliamentary elections scheduled for May, is anxious to address the threat of foreign interference during campaigning.
Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Poland, Portugal and Ukraine are also all due to hold national elections in 2019.
Russia has faced allegations, which it denies, of disseminating false information to influence the U.S. presidential election and Britain’s referendum on EU membership in 2016 as well as Germany’s national election in 2017.
The commission told the firms in April to draft a code of practice, or face regulatory action over what it said was their failure to do enough to remove misleading or illegal content.
European Digital Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said that Facebook, Google, Twitter, Mozilla and advertising groups had responded with several measures.
“The industry is committing to a wide range of actions, from transparency in political advertising to the closure of fake accounts and we welcome this,” she said in a statement.
However, the advisory group criticised the code, saying the companies had not offered measurable objectives to monitor its implementation.
“The platforms, despite their best efforts, have not been able to deliver a code of practice within the accepted meaning of effective and accountable self-regulation,” the group said, giving no further details.
Its members include the Association of Commercial Television in Europe, the European Broadcasting Union, the European Federation of Journalists and International Fact-Checking Network, and several academics.
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Zimbawe’s doctor goes missing after masterminding strike
Fearless Zimbabwe’s minister of health has called on the government to address insecurity lapses that has lead to the disappearance Peter Magombeyi, the head of a doctor’s union, who disappeared on Saturday.
Fears are rising over the fate of Zimbabwe medical doctor Dr Peter Magombeyi after he sent a message to say he had been abducted in that country by unknown persons – apparently for demanding a “living wage”.
An AFP report earlier on Sunday quoted the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctor’s Association (ZHDA) as saying Magombeyi had not been heard from since he sent a WhatsApp message on Saturday night saying he had been “kidnapped by three men”.
Zimbabwe doctors, who earn a miserly equivalent of about R3 000 are on strike to press for better wages, equipment and medicines in state hospitals.
The ZHDA has reportedly accused state security forces of abducting the doctor because of his role in organising work stoppages.
This week some doctors said the death of deposed Robert Mugabe, 95, in a Singapore hospital on 6 September was an indication of how bad health services in Zimbabwe
“Dr Magombeyi’s crime is only to ask for a living wage for his profession. This is a reflection of the troubles born out of refusal to implement Political Reforms.”
The Zimbabwe government led by Emmerson Mnangagwa has not publicly commented on the doctor’s disappearance
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Say no to Xenophobia, South Africans troop out in masses carrying banner and asking for forgiveness from Nigerians after weeks of xenophobic attacks.
The south Africans sangs as they marched through the street and also held up a banner which called for unity among Africans, week after the attack which led to destruction of properties and looting of shops owned by foreigners.
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