Tech companies to face new EU regulations over fake news

Brussels may threaten social media companies with regulation unless they move urgently to tackle fake news and Cambridge Analytica-style use of personal data before the European elections in 2019.

The EU security commissioner, Julian King, said “short-term, concrete” plans needed to be in place before the elections, when voters in 27 EU member states will elect MEPs. The Cambridge Analytica affair had “served to highlight how important [the issue] is”, he told the Guardian.

Regulators around the world have been rethinking their hands-off approach to social media, after it emerged that Cambridge Analytica had mined data from 50 million Facebook users to secretly target them with ads during the US elections.

Under King’s ideas, social media companies would sign a voluntary code of conduct to prevent the “misuse of platforms to pump out misleading information”.

The code would include a pledge for greater transparency, so users would be made aware why their Facebook or Twitter feed was presenting them with certain adverts or stories. Another proposal is for political adverts to be accompanied with information about who paid for them.