Stop spreading the news! : How disinformation spreads on social media and what politicians are doing about it

University essay from KTH/Skolan för elektroteknik och datavetenskap (EECS)

Abstract: Following the rise of social media, the world has found itself in a hyperconnected state. Through the press of a button, it is today possible to reach every corner of the world. This has brought opportunities for freedom and liberation, but in the past years it has also become a danger for these ideas. The rise of disinformation has been declared a major threat to democracy and our society by several major institutions, one of them being the European Union. They have also made it clear that the tech companies, through whose products disinformation primarily spreads, not only inadequately prevent it, but also question if they have enough incentive to do so. The executive branch of the EU, the European Commission, has therefore put forth an action plan in which they outline their work going forward in mitigating the crisis. Comparing with previous research on the vital parts of disinformation, there are heavy indications that the EU’s work will focus on reactionary measures; discovery and sharing of data on ongoing disinformation campaigns between neighbouring and Member States, as well as societal media literacy efforts. For now, due to what seems to be a fear of over-regulating freedom of expression, the responsibility to battle creation and spread is left to the Code of Practice on Disinformation, a plan created by tech companies that hold the platforms that are center in the spread of disinformation. After a first yearassessment, the EU indicates that the results of this Code of Practice is unsatisfactory, and further action might be needed.

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