Wednesday 21 August 2019

Europe must tackle 'fake news' together, says Doherty


Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty. Photo: Mark Condren
Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty. Photo: Mark Condren
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

European leaders need to "look seriously" at how social media can be manipulated to spread fake news and affect elections, Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty has said.

Amid heightened fears across the EU about political interference from Russia in next month's elections, Ms Doherty said small countries like Ireland can't act alone.

She said "everybody should be concerned about it to some extent" because every democracy is "vulnerable".

Pressure has already mounted on platforms such as Facebook and Google to do more to remove misleading content.

Ireland is not seen as being at major risk of electoral interference - but there is EU-wide concern that countries towards the east could be targeted.

But Ms Doherty, who is Fine Gael's director of election for the EU vote on May 24, said each state should be alert to dangers.

"I think that's probably something the next European Council should look seriously at the same way as international bodies should look at it," Ms Doherty said.

"They could potentially look at this as a serious issue at a pan-European level for the next European Council and for the commission too.

"And then guide and direct, because there's no point in us going off and doing something and then France and Germany and anyone else.

"I think we all recognise democracy is vulnerable, some democracies are obviously more vulnerable than others, given that there is an increasing populism particularly in far-right policies that we thankfully don't have here in Ireland, but I think it will be something we'll be positively disposed to," Ms Doherty added.

Irish Independent

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