Facebook challenged to tackle the spread of ‘fake news’ ahead of vital European elections

Facebook’s global affairs boss Sir Nick Clegg has been challenged to tackle the spread of ‘fake news’ on Facebook ahead of vital European elections.

Catherine Stihler, chief executive of Open Knowledge International and a former MEP, has written to the former Deputy Prime Minister to request more transparency from Facebook and its assistance in resuscitating the three foundations of ‘tolerance, facts and ideas’.

Facebook has been at the centre of a series of rows about disinformation on social media, particularly in connection with the 2016 Brexit referendum.

Ms Stihler has asked for detailed statistics on efforts by Facebook to tackle disinformation, an update on the number of fake accounts the platform continues to host, what progress is being made on working with third-part fact-checkers in the EU27, and a response to this week’s Commons report which concluded that Facebook needs stricter regulation to end the spread of ‘fake news’.

In her letter to Sir Nick, Catherine Stihler wrote:

“It is imperative that we do not allow disinformation and fake news to blight this year’s European Parliamentary elections.

The acceptance of basic facts is under threat, with many expert views dismissed and a culture of ‘anti-intellectualism’ from those on the extremes of politics.

The way forward is to resuscitate the three foundations of tolerance, facts and ideas, to prevent the drift to the extremes, and Facebook has a vital role to play in that.

With the rise of extremist parties across the continent, we owe it to the people of Europe to let the facts be heard in the run-up to these crucial elections.”

On 11 February, Open Knowledge International joined a group of 35 organizations led by Mozilla that published an open letter to Facebook. Our ask to Facebook: make good on your promises to provide more transparency around political advertising ahead of the 2019 EU Parliamentary Elections. You can read the full letter and add your signature here if you wish to add your support to the campaign.