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Eight European countries urge Big Tech to act against foreign interference

Eight European countries have signed a letter urging big tech companies to act against foreign information manipulation and interference, including disinformation campaigns that undermine peace and stability across Europe. The signatories of the letter include Prime Ministers of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovak Republic, Ukraine, and the Republic of Moldova.

This open call, made at the second Summit for Democracy – co-hosted by the U.S. President Joe Biden on 29-30 March 2023, is part of the broader effort to promote democratic values and combat disinformation.

The letter calls on social media companies to be vigilant and resist being used as a means of advancing malign goals. The signatories emphasize the importance of cooperation and engagement with a wide range of stakeholders – governments, civil society, experts, and academia – to ensure an effective whole-of-society response to disinformation.

The letter highlights that disinformation is being deployed to destabilize countries, weaken democracies, and – in the case of EU-hopefuls – derail the accession to the European Union. The signatories cite examples of how social media has become a potent channel for spreading false narratives.

To tackle these issues, the letter proposes several concrete actions. These include social media platforms taking concrete measures to prevent themselves from being used as tools to advance malicious objectives, algorithms prioritizing accuracy and truthfulness over engagement when promoting content, and platforms ensuring they have adequate staff and financial resources to effectively respond to the challenges of content moderation.

The joint letter also highlights the growing threat to democracies posed by deep fakes and other AI-generated disinformation, especially from hostile foreign actors. The signatories call for tools to identify deep fakes and discern when a text was written by a human as opposed to artificial intelligence to identify automated misinformation campaigns. They also suggest that platforms that disseminate deepfakes should allow independent, third-party researchers to study the effects of this media and monitor whether the platforms’ algorithms are behaving in accordance with their policies.

“Foreign information manipulation and interference, including disinformation campaigns pose a threat to democracy, stability, and national security. Big tech companies have the power to be vital allies in our common effort to tackle hostile information attacks against democracies and international rules-based order,” say Prime Ministers of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Slovak Republic, and Ukraine.

CT Bureau

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