News roundup: EU urges tech companies to 'do better' as another Russian disinformation campaign comes to light
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News roundup: EU urges tech companies to 'do better' as another Russian disinformation campaign comes to light

Russian disinformation

In a new report authored by the European Union, it was revealed that ‘Russian sources' had mounted a disinformation effort during the EU parliament elections in order to "suppress turnout and influence voter preferences". According to the Financial Times,  the EU's report reveals that social media companies ‘fell short' in their attempts to mitigate the malicious activity ‘despite improvements in some areas'.

Overall, the report suggests that social media companies will need to do better going forward, or ‘risk regulation'. The report, due to be published today', didn't offer guidance as to how the effort was carried out, but mentioned the polls faced wide-ranging attempts to mislead voters.

According to FT, the report says, "Instead of conducting large-scale operations on digital platforms… actors, in particular linked to Russian sources, now appeared to be opting for smaller-scale, localised operations that are harder to detect and expose."

While commendations were offered to tech companies for their efforts in curbing misleading advertising and taking down certain accounts - praising the specific actions of some larger firms - it says there is still some work to be done on improving transparency of which sites host advertisements. It also calls on companies to work more closely with fact-checkers in the EU and give researchers better access to their data. The report also indicated that it would decide whether further initiatives, including regulations, would need to be imposed, following an assessment before the end of the year.

In a separate development, it was also revealed this week that Alphabet subsidiary Jigsaw paid a Russian troll $250 to spread disinformation as an experiment. The move, which was reported by Wired on Wednesday, was apparently designed to prove how easy it is to purchase social media propaganda, which honestly just seems to be as horribly timed as it is perfectly timed. It drew a healthy amount of criticism due to the small matter of actually having paid a Russian troll, as well as creating highly controversial posts on social media on whether Stalin was a hero or criminal.

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Pat Martlew

Patrick Martlew is a technology enthusiast and editorial guru that works the digital enterprise beat in London. After making his tech writing debut in Sydney, he has now made his way to the UK where he works to cover the very latest trends and provide top-grade expert analysis.

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