The widespread use of digital services has highly impacted our lives. Among other changes, it has affected the way in which we access, share and deliver information online. In such a context, malicious acts through the use of digital services and platforms provided a negative impulse to the media ecosystems causing a need of evolving European legislations. Accordingly, the European Commission (EC) has put in place a set of actions and tools to better regulate the media digital ecosystem and its actors.

One of the measures implemented by the EC have been the funding of a Coordinated and Support Action called Social Observatory for Disinformation and Social Media Analysis (SOMA). The project, running from November 2018 until April 2021, has aggregated a community of 100 researchers and fact checkers to fight disinformation and has developed policy recommendations to inform future policy regulations.

Based on the SOMA analysis, three main recommendations have been developed around the following three topics:

1. Increasing trustworthy contents sharing 

As suggested by the Art.7 of the EU’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD), the broadcasters, also the platforms should be asked to revise their algorithms to incentivise the dissemination of prominent contents based on the trustworthiness of information instead of the number of views, reach and sharing.

2. More and better access to data for research purposes

Data access for research purposes is one of the most pressing issues related to the analysis and understanding of disinformation. Despite several requests from European institutions, most of the platforms’ data are still not accessible. Accordingly, more and better access should be guaranteed to improve research initiatives. Efforts in terms of hard law must be implemented to guarantee a fast, secure and large access to data, otherwise researchers’ capabilities will be always limited and narrowed. 

3. More obligations for digital platforms

Soft law approaches fostered by the EU are not sufficient to guarantee a safe and trustworthy media ecosystem. A change in the media infrastructure is requested. In particular, two actions are strongly needed: i. to improve algorithms’ transparency and exploitability to empower users in the understanding and comprehension of platforms’ mechanisms; ii. to clarify and expose advertisements’ rules and business models to reduce the monetisation of clickbait titles. To achieve this last point more obligations for the platforms are needed, in particular for what is related to political advertisement on social media platforms. European institutions are asked to develop a co-regulatory framework to put in place strict obligations for the platforms for the public good. Only with long-term policy, based on a co-regulatory framework and setting up obligations for the platforms, it will be possible to achieve concrete and stable results.

Here you can access the full policy report and the SOMA infographics