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Towards a system of monitoring and regulation to counter misinformation in and manipulation by social media

Motion for a resolution | Doc. 14458 | 18 December 2017

Lord George FOULKES, United Kingdom, SOC ; Mr Volodymyr ARIEV, Ukraine, EPP/CD ; Lord Richard BALFE, United Kingdom, EC ; Ms Gülsün BİLGEHAN, Turkey, SOC ; Mr José CEPEDA, Spain, SOC ; Mr Vernon COAKER, United Kingdom, SOC ; Mr Paolo CORSINI, Italy, SOC ; Sir Roger GALE, United Kingdom, EC ; Ms Adele GAMBARO, Italy, FDG ; Mr Francesco Maria GIRO, Italy, EPP/CD ; Mr Andries GRYFFROY, Belgium, NR ; Ms Maura HOPKINS, Ireland, EPP/CD ; Mr Rafael HUSEYNOV, Azerbaijan, ALDE ; Mr Luís LEITE RAMOS, Portugal, EPP/CD ; Ms Agnieszka POMASKA, Poland, EPP/CD ; Mr John PRESCOTT, United Kingdom, SOC ; Mr Frédéric REISS, France, EPP/CD ; Ms María Concepción de SANTA ANA, Spain, EPP/CD ; Mr Stefan SCHENNACH, Austria, SOC ; Mr Bertrand SORRE, France, NR ; Ms Rita TAMAŠUNIENĖ, Lithuania, EC ; Lord Don TOUHIG, United Kingdom, SOC ; Mr Jordi XUCLÀ, Spain, ALDE

Social media is one of the most important arenas for political debate; it has expanded rapidly and has become highly influential in swaying public opinion. Therefore, it is of extreme concern that social media spreads misinformation and is misused as a tool of manipulation, while regulation and control in this area are either negligible or non-existent.

This situation is not only threatening the political processes in our democratic societies, but is also preventing the public from being informed in a proper and balanced manner.

The Parliamentary Assembly should inquire into:

  • how social media is being misused, hijacking the fundamental principle of freedom of speech;
  • how search engines (i.e. the algorithms behind the search engines) can be designed to favour particular causes, thus manipulating users;
  • the mismatch between the use of polls in mainstream media and the capacity of social media to misinform and manipulate;
  • how to counter disinformation and manipulation channeled through social media.

The Assembly should consider these matters with a view to making recommendations on the introduction of:

  • binding rules for the use of social media to prevent and eventually neutralise misinformation and manipulation;
  • a system of monitoring with severe sanctions for contravening agreed rules.

These recommendations should be elaborated with due regard to the fundamental principle of freedom of information, which is to be guaranteed whatever the media or technological platform.