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Who burned Notre Dame? Brussels goes after fake news as EU election nears

A picture shows a protective net inside the Notre-Dame Cathedral during the preliminary work in the Notre-Dame Cathedral one month after it sustained major fire damage in Paris, France May 15, 2019. Philippe Lopez/Pool via REUTERS

The European Union has launched a coordinated fight against fake news ahead of this month’s European Parliament elections, but officials acknowledge there are limits to what can be achieved against a danger barely recognized a few years ago.

The risk is “very high”, said Lutz Guellner, one of the EU’s top officials in charge of the anti-disinformation campaign. “Just look at the past, the U.S. elections, what happened in France, Germany.”

By funding fact-checking organizations, building up an in-house unit to counter disinformation from Russia, and enlisting Facebook, Google, Twitter and others, Brussels hopes to shield the 427 million people eligible to vote for the 751-seat EU chamber on May 23-26.

Facebook opened a fake news war room in late April, later showing journalists around the Dublin facility, but security experts say that may be too late to uproot the seeds of doubt planted by malign campaigns to undermine one of the world’s biggest elections.


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