Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and other tech giants were told to step up their efforts to stop the spread of fake information about the Covid-19 virus, including giving better access to their data to help with research.
Vera Jourova, a European Commission vice president, had a call Friday with companies including Google and Microsoft Corp. The firms, which signed a code of conduct to stop disinformation, had all taken “strong measures” since her last talk with them, she said.
“More needs to be done, by both the platforms and authorities alike,” Jourova said in a statement. “Platforms need to step up efforts to fully enforce their new policies and offer more evidence that the measures they have taken are working well. They need to provide better access to data for research purposes. It is also equally important to step up our analytical capacity and coordinate better the response to harmful information.”
Italy and Spain have had the most deaths worldwide, as the outbreak of the virus in Europe is stretching health-care systems and in some cases forcing doctors to choose who should live or die. The EU this month also urged online companies including Facebook, Amazon.com. Inc. and Google to help stop rogue traders from cashing in on the crisis through deceptive techniques and scams in the sale of protective masks, caps and hand sanitizers.
“It is crucial to remove the financial incentives from clickbait disinformation and profiteering scams which continue to be an issue,” Jourova said. “This is probably the first global crisis where the full power of technology, social media and AI can be deployed,” but people’s “privacy and other freedoms should not be undermined.”