- The European commission also accused major online platforms of inaction
- In a 17-page report, the EU has called out a ‘flood’ of misleading information
- EU foreign policy chief held video talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Tuesday
In a paper on what it called the ‘flood’ of misleading and inaccurate information proliferating around the pandemic, Brussels says Beijing and Moscow had set out to polarise debate and burnish their own images.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, also accuses major online platforms of doing too little to help fact-checkers tackle the ‘infodemic’ of false healthcare claims, conspiracy theories, fraud and hate speech.
‘Foreign actors and certain third countries, in particular Russia and China, have engaged in targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns around COVID-19,’ the paper, set to be published on Wednesday, says.
The 17-page report, to be presented by EU vice-president for values and transparency Vera Jourova, accuses Moscow and Beijing of ‘seeking to undermine democratic debate and exacerbate social polarisation, and improve their own image in the COVID-19 context.’+3
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, pictured on June 9 2020, held video talks with Chinese Foreign Minister on Tuesday, warning afterwards that Europe needed to devote more resources to tackling disinformation
Already in April, the EU’s anti-disinformation task force detailed ‘a coordinated push by official Chinese sources’ to deflect blame for the pandemic, which originated in China.
But the assessment in the commission’s official communication to member states and the European Parliament puts the charge on a more official footing – and in far less diplomatic terms.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell held video talks with a Chinese Foreign Minister on Tuesday, warning afterwards that Europe needed to devote more resources to tackling disinformation.
The coronavirus has fed into a geopolitical information war, with the West accusing Beijing and Moscow of promoting false or misleading narratives about the pandemic which began in China late last year.
The EU strategy paper says social media platforms had reported that they were trying to promote accurate virus information and limited content that was false or misleading.
But it says they need to do more.