EU launches disinformation probe against social media giant Meta

Meta defends risk mitigation process after EU says the companies efforts at moderating content was ‘insufficient’.

EU flag and Meta logo are seen in this illustration taken, May 22, 2023 [File: Dado Ruvic/Illustration/Reuters]

The European Commission has launched a disinformation probe against social media giant Meta.

The EU announced the investigation into the operator of Facebook and Instagram on Tuesday, saying suspects the US company of breaching the bloc’s online content rules. Brussels has raised its efforts to clamp down on disinformation ahead of EU elections in June.

The commission said Meta’s efforts at moderating content are “insufficient” and fail to tackle deceptive advertising and disinformation.

The Digital Services Act (DSA), which became effective last year, requires “Big Tech” to do more to counter illegal and harmful content on social media platforms.

“We suspect that Meta’s moderation is insufficient, that it lacks transparency of advertisements and content moderation procedures,” EU digital chief Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

“So today, we have opened proceedings against Meta to assess their compliance with the Digital Services Act,” she said.

The regulatory move comes as concerns about Russia, China and Iran as potential sources of disinformation have risen in the run-up to the EU election.

Last month, an alleged Russian-sponsored network seeking to influence the June 6-9 vote was uncovered. Politicians from across the bloc were reportedly paid to parrot Moscow’s narratives, especially concerning its invasion of Ukraine.

Anti-establishment parties are also accused of spreading their own disinformation as they seek to increase their presence in the next five-year EU parliament.

Following the EU’s announcement, Meta sought to defend its risk mitigation processes.

“We have a well-established process for identifying and mitigating risks on our platforms. We look forward to continuing our cooperation with the European Commission and providing them with further details of this work,” a Meta spokesperson said.

However, the EU also expressed concerns about Meta’s deprecation of its disinformation tracking CrowdTangle without an adequate replacement.

Meta has said it will replace CrowdTangle with a new Content Library, a technology still under development.

Facebook and Instagram are among 23 “very large” online platforms that must comply with the DSA or risk fines running up to 6 percent of a platform’s global turnover, or even a ban for egregious cases.

Other platforms include Amazon, Snapchat, TikTok and YouTube.

Meta has five working days to inform the EU about remedial actions taken to address its concerns.

Source: News Agencies