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The fake news nightmare of the European elections

A few weeks after the vote alarms about the indiscriminate use of disinformation are multiplying. Distinguishing the true from the false becomes increasingly difficult.


Eyes open, antennae straight and ears wide open. The problem of fake news has gotten bloody complicated. We are in serious danger of entering a foggy swamp in which to distinguish the true from the false becomes increasingly difficult. A few weeks before the European elections (8 and 9 June), never so important given the deterioration of the international scene, the alarm of misinformation pounded the nervous system of continental democracies. And among the most shaken is certainly ours. To raise the hair of those responsible for cyber-ethics in Italy, it was the timing with which, after the massacre in Moscow, on the local network began to circulate posts that attribute the attack to Ukraine. In perfect harmony with the narrative promoted by the Kremlin. 

Within a few hours of the attack that caused almost 150 deaths, hundreds of fake profiles produced an impressive series of comments relaunching a service appeared on "The correspondent", a pro-Russian online newspaper. One of the many mushroomed in recent times that flood the European capitals with information built artfully to pour into the net the watchwords of Putin’s propaganda.

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"Misinformation is the real problem. We’ve seen it in recent years. The circulation of fake-news has affected the outcome of numerous political consultations". Words spoken with concern by European Parliament Communication Director Jaume Duch Guillot. What helps paint a disturbing picture is the unstoppable progress of artificial intelligence. It is now possible to produce completely credible false images. And videos in which any known subject, political or not, pronounces words or speeches according to the indications provided by the machine. In short, to make a film in which, to put it bluntly, Macron announces in a solemn tone that Paris has declared war on Italy is not impossible as it might seem. If after fifty years, thanks to artificial intelligence, an old acoustic demo of the Beatles has been transformed into a song that seems to come out fresh from a recording room, It is easy to understand that we are facing a revolution that can completely upset the way we perceive what is true and what is not.

In this situation, the statements made by Vera Jourova, Vice-President of the European Commission, during a recent visit to our country, take on an alarming tone. "According to the latest reports by Meta and TikTok in the context of the code of conduct on disinformation, Italy had the May number of content removed from Facebook, Instagram and TikTok between January and June 2023. On Facebook, 45,000 posts were blocked on the 140,000 recorded in all EU countries, on Instagram 1,900 on 6,900, on TikTok 45,510 on 160,635".  Attention, they are data of a year ago: considered the speed with which the digital universe evolves, it is likely to believe that the numbers have grown exponentially.

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To counterbalance this gloomy picture, there is certainly the fact that Europe is the continent that before and more than any other has moved to put a legislative barrier to deregulation. On Wednesday 13 March, by a very large majority, the European Parliament approved the law governing the use of artificial intelligence. The cornerstones of legislation? Guarantees for AI systems used for general purposes, limits to the use of biometric identification systems by law enforcement, no social credit systems, or to manipulate and exploit user vulnerabilities. And fight without quarter to disinformation.

Will it be enough?



Illustration by Gloria Dozio - Acrimònia Studios