Divisions over EU’s focus on tech groups to stop ‘fake news’

European Commissionner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel. (AFP)
Updated 13 March 2018
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Divisions over EU’s focus on tech groups to stop ‘fake news’

BRUSSELS: Divisions emerged Tuesday after experts commissioned by the EU Commission called on tech groups and social media firms to sign up to a voluntary code of conduct for tackling “fake news.”
Consumer groups and European legislators called for a tougher stance than the one set out by the experts on Monday, but the industry rejected using regulation to tackle the problem.
The report by the so-called High-Level Expert Group on Fake News and Disinformation, which includes a representative from AFP, said online platforms should be more transparent about the way news is shared.
Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for the digital single market and society, said the experts’ views would “help us put forward a number of options to better address the risks posed by disinformation spread online.”
Brussels will set out its first strategy outlines next month.
Tech firms like Facebook and Google have faced growing criticism for failing to tackle both “fake news” and hate speech.
The report said online firms should sign up to the code of conduct to “ensure transparency by explaining how algorithms select the news put forward.”
It said they should also work with European news outlets to “improve the visibility of reliable, trustworthy news.”
The fake news group also argued against the use of the term fake news — saying it should instead be referred to as “disinformation” as it sometimes blends fake information with fact.
The software and browser firm Mozilla on Tuesday rejected any regulation.
“We believe that the complex and multi-factor nature of the phenomenon — in terms of its causes and impact — make one-size-fits-all regulatory solutions inappropriate,” it said.
But Marietje Schaake, a leading liberal member of the European Parliament, said the expert report had a “major omission.”
“It does not fully address the key catalyst of the dissemination of disinformation, which are the in-transparent algorithms and the online advertising models that dominate most technology platforms,” Schaake said in a statement.
“These models inherently push sensational content on newsfeeds that is often false, inaccurate, or misleading.”
The European Consumer Organization (BEUC) agreed that the report did not tackle the “root causes” of the problem.
“Platforms such as Google or Facebook massively benefit from users reading and sharing fake news articles which contain advertisements. But this expert group choose to ignore this business model,” BEUC director general Monique Goyens said in a statement.
Gabriel told AFP in a interview last week that Europe must “redouble” its efforts to tackle the phenomenon in the run-up to elections, as fears grow about Russian meddling in votes across the continent.


Arab News launches ‘Road to 2030’ section to track Saudi Arabia’s bold reforms

Updated 22 September 2018
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Arab News launches ‘Road to 2030’ section to track Saudi Arabia’s bold reforms

  • Section to provide news, opinion and analysis on country’s transformation
  • Newspaper’s National Day coverage looks ahead to 
Kingdom’s high-tech future

RIYADH: Arab News, the Middle East’s leading English-language daily, today announces the launch of a digital service to track and explain the ambitious reforms underway in Saudi Arabia.
Announced on the eve of Saudi National Day, the new “Road to 2030” section will include the latest news, analysis and opinion around the reforms and transformation underway in the Kingdom.
Hosted on the paper’s website, the section  —  www.arabnews.com/road2030 —  is named after the Vision 2030 program unveiled in 2016 by HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is the Kingdom’s heir to the throne. 
It coincides with Arab News’ special coverage of Saudi National Day, which marks the formation of the Kingdom on Sept. 23, 1932.
The theme of the souvenir edition, published on Sunday, will be around the future of the Kingdom —  and how the country will look as the 2030 reforms continue to take shape. 
The edition of the newspaper features a unique wrap-around cover illustrating how the country could look in 12 years’ time, as well as a timeline about the reforms and articles about their progress and young people’s views on the future of Saudi Arabia. 
 “We decided to not to limit our Saudi National Day to celebrating the Kingdom’s past —  but to also look ahead to its bright and promising future under the ambitious Vision 2030 plan,” said Faisal J. Abbas, Editor-in-Chief of Arab News.  
“This is reflected via the newspaper’s commissioned cover artwork, which imagines Saudi Arabia in 12 years’ time, as well as the stories by our promising team of young Saudi journalists and contributors. 
“We are also proud to launch the Road to 2030 section, which will track the changes underway in the Kingdom and be a reference for observers, visitors and investors in Saudi Arabia.”
Arab News is part of the regional publishing giant Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG). It has been the English newspaper of record for Saudi Arabia and the region for over 40 years.