The European Court of Auditors (ECA) has launched an audit to examine the Union’s efforts to fight the spread of verifiably false or misleading information for the purposes of economic gain or intentionally deceiving the public, which may cause public harm. The auditors will assess the EU action plan against disinformation in terms of its relevance, the results achieved so far, as well as its accountability framework. The examination includes the European External Action Service (EEAS) StratCom task forces’ capacity to tackle disinformation, the establishment of the rapid alert system, the code of practice signed by online platforms and other bodies, as well as projects and EU initiatives to raise awareness and improve societal resilience.
The rise of the internet, social media and new digital technologies have revolutionised the way people are informed and communicate. At the same time, this has also brought about increasing challenges, such as unauthorised access and use of data, as well as rapid amplification of misleading content. Sensitive topics such as migration, climate change and health issues are often used to polarise society.
“Any attempt to maliciously and intentionally undermine and manipulate public opinion can represent a serious threat to the Union itself,” said Baudilio Tomé Muguruza, the ECA Member leading the audit. “EU citizens must know whether the EU Action Plan against disinformation is effective.”