A high-level expert group, which was set up in November by the European Commission to tackle the spread of online disinformation, convened for its first meeting on January 15.  Representing academics, online platforms, news media and civil society organisations, the group will contribute to the development of an EU-level strategy on how to tackle this phenomenon, to be presented in spring 2018.

The team of 39 experts is tasked with advising the Commission on scoping the phenomenon, defining the roles and responsibilities of relevant stakeholders, grasping the international dimension, taking stock of the positions at stake, and formulating recommendations.

“The freedom to receive and impart information and the pluralism of the media are enshrined in the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights,” First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said in November. “We live in an era where the flow of information and misinformation has become almost overwhelming. That is why we need to give our citizens the tools to identify fake news, improve trust online, and manage the information they receive.”

As reported by the Associated Press (AP), European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, who is responsible for digital affairs, said “fake news is spreading at a worrying rate. It threatens the reputation of the media and the well-being of our democracies”.