The European Commission has told Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft to continue monthly reports on their efforts to tackle fake news, especially on COVID-19, for another six months.
Social media and online platforms have come under fire globally over the spread of fake news, leading to calls for regulators to force them to do more or face cumbersome rules.
The companies, together with TikTok and advertisers, have signed the European Union's code of practice to tackle the spread of disinformation on their platforms, and had to submit reports on their efforts during an initial six-month period.
The reports will continue for another six months because of their relevance during the virus pandemic, the EU executive said.
The companies have been told to provide more data on how disinformation spreads during the coronavirus crisis and on the granular impact of their actions in EU countries.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
"The pandemic has become a breeding ground for false claims and conspiracy theories and platforms are important amplifiers of this type of messages," Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova said in a statement.
"We must continue working together to improve our fight with disinformation, but we need more transparency and better effort from the online platforms," she said.
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