Espreso. Global

Warning issued to TikTok and Meta over Slovakian election misinformation

25 September, 2023 Monday
15:47

European officials have urged tech giants to take stronger action against pro-Russia propaganda in Slovakia's election campaign

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Politico writes about it. 

Brussels has cautioned Alphabet, TikTok, and Meta to intensify their efforts in safeguarding Slovakia's upcoming election from foreign interference or face potentially significant fines.

In a series of meetings held in Bratislava during the week of September 11, the European Commission and the Slovakian government pressed these companies to allocate additional resources to combat hate speech, disinformation, and pro-Russia propaganda ahead of the September 30 vote.

Elections in Slovakia 

Concerns are mounting among European and Slovakian regulators about the spread of disinformation and pro-Kremlin ideas among local social media users, including supporters of Robert Fico, Slovakia's controversial former prime minister, who leads in the polls and has called for ending military support to Ukraine.

Read also: Slovakia's potential shift towards Russia

Under the EU's new digital regulations, the Digital Services Act, social media platforms must demonstrate their active efforts to remove illegal content and counter foreign propaganda. Failure to do so could result in fines of up to 6 percent of their global annual revenue.

The upcoming Slovakian election will serve as a test for Europe's new social media rules. The populist Smer-SD party leads in the polls, and if it secures the most parliamentary seats, Slovakia's support for Ukraine could diminish.

Several nationalist parties in Slovakia openly oppose continued support for Kyiv, and a minority of social media users share pro-Kremlin narratives about Ukraine, according to the Central European Digital Media Observatory.

Ahead of the vote, online attacks against Middle Eastern and Ukrainian refugees and the Slovakian LGBTQ+ community have surged, according to data from Reset, a nonprofit focused on social media accountability.

Discussions

Executives from Elon Musk's Twitter (now known as X) were also invited to the discussions but did not attend, according to two anonymous sources. Meta, Alphabet, and TikTok declined to comment on the meetings in Bratislava.

Tech executives described the talks with EU regulators and government officials as productive, emphasizing their existing local content moderation teams, increased collaboration with Slovakian fact-checking groups, and internal changes to address harmful content.

Europe's revised social media laws will also be tested in Poland's upcoming parliamentary election, which has already sparked online tensions between rival political groups.
 

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