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EU presents plan to fight fake news ahead of upcoming MEP elections

Plans to set up a Rapid Alert System

The European Commission presented plans to set up a Rapid Alert System targeting online "disinformation" on Wednesday, in an effort to "protect" online debates.

The EU said it was presenting an action plan to "protect its democratic systems" from disinformation, particularly in view of the upcoming 2019 European elections.

The Rapid Alert System will be set up among EU institutions and member states to facilitate sharing data on disinformation campaigns. It will also provide alerts on disinformation threats in real time.

Concerns about the use of 'fake news' to undermine democratic systems has grown in recent years, following reports of voters being intentionally manipulated in the USA and France, among others. 

An EU-wide study found that 80 per cent of citizens in member states think fake news on the internet is a problem in their country and for democracy in general. 

The Commission also said it planned to step up monitoring of an online code of practice, with more resources devoted to the issue.

Signatories of the online code of practice were encouraged to effectively implement commitments made, including transparency of political advertising and closing fake accounts.

The Commission also said it planned to promote media literacy through programmes. It also said it will be providing support to national multidisciplinary teams of independent fact-checkers.

Budget allocated to address disinformation and raise awareness about its adverse impact is expected to more than double, from €1.9 million in 2018 to €5 million in 2019.

EU member states should complement these measures by reinforcing their own means to deal with disinformation, the European Commission said.

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