How Europe Joins the Fight Against Fake News and Disinformation

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The European Union is making it clear that fighting fake news and disinformation is a priority. According to a European Commission document seen by Reuters, the EU wants tech giants, such as Facebook, to make pledges to fight fake news and their monetization. The document also specifies key performance indicators which will be used to verify that the companies are living up to their pledges.

In the past months, social media companies faced heavy criticism for their role in the spread of fake news. Facebook reported that from the beginning of the pandemic until April 2021 they had to delete more than 18 million pieces of content from Facebook and Instagram globally for violating their policies on COVID-19-related misinformation. However, according to researchers specialized in the spread of misinformation, these 18 million are likely just the tip of the iceberg.

Fake reviews

This document comes as the EU member states are also working on implementing directive 2019/2161. This directive aims to better enforce and modernize consumer protection rules, among other things by fighting fake reviews. Although it only comes into effect in 2022, it must be implemented in the member states’ legislative systems by November this year. 

The impact of reviews in e-commerce is immense. Research shows that no less than 80% of consumers see them as a major deciding factor while online shopping. Unfortunately, it can be fairly easy to create fake reviews. By fake reviews, we mean reviews written by someone who has not purchased the product or service in question, is not independent or is getting rewards for posting favorably, or created by an algorithm without disclosing this. This practice usually leads to either harming the seller or deceiving the consumer.

The directive

The EU is well aware of the importance of consumer reviews. That is why the EU lawmakers are trying to stop these practices. They are doing so by making shops responsible for ensuring the authenticity and integrity of reviews on their websites. In particular, the directive states the following:

When traders provide access to consumer reviews of products, they should inform consumers whether processes or procedures are in place to ensure that the published reviews originate from consumers who have actually used or purchased the products.

EU Directive 2019/2161

Read the directive for more information on how, in particular, these processes should look like. In the document, you will also find information about the possible consequences of disobeying the news rules.

Implementation

The member states are currently working on the implementation of this directive in their law systems. They have two options for doing so. Firstly, they can adopt the new rules as defined by the EU without change. Alternatively, they might amend the directive to fit their legal system, while maintaining the same goal.


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Avatar for Katerina Kadlecova

Online Marketing Coordinator at Icecat N.V.

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