European Commission launches public consultation on fake news

The European Commission today launched a public consultation on fake news and online disinformation and has set up an expert group comprising academics, online platforms, news media and civil society organisations.

The work of the expert group and 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.

First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “The freedom to receive and impart information and the pluralism of the media are enshrined in the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.

“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.”

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.

It will gather opinions on what actions could be taken at EU level to give citizens effective tools to identify reliable and verified information and adapt to the challenges of the digital age.

The contributions are expected in three main areas:

  1. The scope of the problem, i.e. how fake news is perceived by citizens and stakeholders, how they are aware of online disinformation, or how they trust different media
  2. Assessment of measures already taken by platforms, news media companies and civil society organisations to counter the spread of fake news online, as well as positions on the roles and responsibilities of the relevant stakeholders
  3. Possible future actions to strengthen citizens access to reliable and verified information and prevent the spread of disinformation online

This consultation only addresses fake news and disinformation online when the content is not per se illegal and thus not covered by existing EU or national legislative and self-regulatory actions.

The Commission is also inviting applications for membership of the expert group. The call for application is open until mid-December. The expert group is expected to start in January 2018 and will work over several months.