Eight European countries have signed a letter urging big tech giants to tackle disinformation that undermines peace and stability throughout the continent.
The signatories of the letter, which calls for action against “foreign information manipulation and interference, including disinformation campaigns,” include the prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Ukraine, and the Republic of Moldova.
“We are writing to you with a sense to urgency and a call to action, democracies across the world are fighting against disinformation that undermines our peace and stability, and we need your support to emerge victorious,” stated the letter.
In an open letter by eight European leaders to #bigtech companies, we stress the urgent need to take more efficient steps against disinformation.
Social media should not be used to destabilise democracies. Tech platforms also have a responsibility to make sure it doesn't happen. pic.twitter.com/2uLxKPXSkP
— Kaja Kallas (@kajakallas) March 29, 2023
The dispatch highlights that tech platforms have become “virtual battlegrounds,” with hostile foreign powers utilizing them to spread false narratives that contradict fact-based reporting from news outlets.
Disinformation is identified as one of their most powerful weapons, enabling the strategic advancement of malign goals through the creation and dissemination of false narratives.
“Moldova has been at the forefront of an information war since Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, her nest-door neighbour,” mentioned the letter.
Although the direct targets of disinformation may differ, all eight countries say they are under attack and face similar challenges.
‘Disinformation to destabilize Europe’
Foreign information manipulation and interference was cited as a major concern, with disinformation deployed to destabilize democracies, according to the signatories.
Moldova has been at the forefront of an information war since Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.
In a joint letter of 6 European govts, we call upon the big tech companies to have a more efficient fight against the disinformation that undermines democracies, peace & stability. pic.twitter.com/qoxjcldrdD
— Dorin Recean (@DorinRecean) March 29, 2023
Such tactics are intended to derail the accession of Moldova and Ukraine to the European Union, and to weaken support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s ongoing war of aggression, explained the letter.
The letter also specifically mentions that paid advertisements and artificial amplification on Meta’s platforms, including Facebook, have been used to call for violent social unrest and destabilize governments.
“Social media has become a potent channel for spreading false and manipulative narratives, paid ads and artificial amplification on Meta’s platform are often used to call for violent social unrest, bring violence to the streets and destabilize governments,” the letter stated.
Concrete measure needed
Big tech companies must prevent the spread of propaganda and disinformation that promotes war, war crimes, crimes against humanity, or violence on their platforms. They should collaborate with governments, civil society, experts, academia, independent media, and fact-checkers to effectively address the issue, explained the alliance.
“Online platforms should take concrete measures to prevent their service from being used as tools and means to advance malicious objectives.”
Concrete measures include refraining from accepting payments from individuals who have been sanctioned for their actions against democracy and human rights.
Big tech companies should prioritize accuracy and transparency over engagement when promoting content and need to invest in tools to identify deep fakes and other AI-generated disinformation.