Lithuania welcomes EC attention to Russian disinformation, expects action on platforms

  • 2020-06-10
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - Lithuania's ambassador to the EU says the European Commission clearly identified the problem when it blamed Russia and China for spreading disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, but believes that stronger action should be taken against online platforms that are disseminating fake news. 

Jovita Neliupsiene, Lithuania’s permanent representative to the EU, was commenting on the European Commission's communication on "Tackling COVID-19 disinformation", which was released on Wednesday.  

"Foreign actors and certain third countries, in particular Russia and China, have engaged in targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns around COVID-19 in the EU, its neighborhood and globally, seeking to undermine democratic debate and exacerbate social polarization, and improve their own image in the COVID-19 context," the document reads.

Neliupsiene said the communication is "a sign that the European Commission understands the scale of the problem really well". 

"I welcome the fact that the communication draws attention to the harm caused by disinformation to consumers who believe in 'miracle cures' or, on the contrary, distrust advice from scientists and medical doctors," the ambassador told BNS.

"However, it is worrying that the European Commission, having clearly identified social media platforms as the main channels for spreading disinformation, does not intend, at least at this stage, to take any stronger action and prefers to continue counting on the good will of the platforms," she said. "Let's hope there will be good will." 

The Commission called on online platforms to make available reports "on their policies and actions to address COVID-19 related disinformation" and to cooperate more closely with fact-checkers.

The EU's executive body also said it will closely monitor the impact of member states' emergency measures on EU law and values, and promised to intensify support to independent media and journalists.