EU study finds online platforms inadequate in countering Russian disinformation, calls for improved risk assessment

The study focused on the efforts of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, and Telegram in addressing pro-Kremlin disinformation campaigns during the year 2022.

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A recent study by the Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content, and Technology sheds light on the shortcomings of major online platforms in combating Russian disinformation campaigns. It presents a method to evaluate the effectiveness of online platforms in countering Russian disinformation based on the principles and requirements outlined in the Digital Services Act (DSA).

The study evaluated platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, and Telegram in their efforts to address pro-Kremlin disinformation during 2022. While some platforms imposed restrictions on state-controlled Russian media, none adopted measures targeting all accounts associated with the Russian Federation. Platforms displayed limited action against violent conflict-related content, even when reported through their designated channels.

Furthermore, the research revealed limited success in curbing the algorithmic amplification of misleading content by companies like Meta and Twitter. The study underscores the need for enhanced risk assessment methodologies and collaborative efforts between stakeholders to effectively counter online disinformation.

Why does it matter?

As disinformation campaigns can manipulate public perceptions, influence elections, and even incite societal tensions, the ineffectiveness of these major platforms in countering Russian disinformation raises severe concerns about their ability to maintain a trustworthy and responsible online environment. The study serves as a wake-up call for platforms to take more proactive steps in identifying and countering disinformation and for civil society and experts to asses different risks posed by online platforms, thus enhancing public oversight of digital services.