Friday, May 7, 2021

US Capitol assault a ‘wake-up call’ for democracies, says EU

The EU has proposed new rules to clamp down on fake news on social media.

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The EU’s top diplomat said on Sunday that last week’s assault on the US Capitol exposed the dangers of allowing democratic values to degrade and disinformation to spread on social media, reports Reuters.

“What we saw on Wednesday was only the climax of very worrying developments happening globally in recent years,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who speaks on behalf of the 27 EU member states, said in a blog post.

President Donald Trump is facing a renewed drive by Democrats to remove him from office after he incited supporters to storm the US Capitol in an assault that left five people dead.

“In case anyone had any doubts, the events in Washington also show that disinformation constitutes a real threat for democracies,” Borrell said. “If some people believe that an election was fraudulent because their leader has been again and again telling them, they will behave accordingly.”

Borrell called for better regulation of social networks but said this could not be carried out by the companies themselves.

Twitter permanently cut off Trump’s personal account and access to his nearly 90 million followers late on Friday, citing the risk of further incitement of violence. Trump has repeatedly used Twitter and other platforms to claim the election result was fraudulent and to share other conspiracy theories.

The EU’s executive commission last month proposed rules to clamp down on fake news on social media.

The new rules would force large online platforms to tackle illegal content and intentional manipulation of platforms to influence elections and public health, or face fines up to 6% of their global turnover.

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