Fine Gael’s director of elections has urged the EU to impose strict laws to stop unknown groups undermining elections amid fears over the growing influence of fake news and social media propaganda.
Speaking as Facebook today enforces new rules aiming to make it clear to the public who is behind and paying for political, social, and anti-immigrant online ads, Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty admitted Ireland could be targeted by outside forces.
And, with just a month to go before European Parliament elections which are predicted to see a rise in far-right and populist groups, she said there is a clear need for Brussels to stamp out the threat to European democracy.
“Everybody should be concerned about it to some extent, given how we are all captured by social media and communications, so every democracy is vulnerable,” she said.
“We probably need to all face the fact there’s a new vulnerability and we need to make sure companies have regulations that they have to adhere to, but also states too... I think that’s probably something the next European Council should look seriously at.”
Ms Doherty was speaking as Facebook today imposes strict new transparency rules on any political or campaign-related adverts on the social media site to ensure the public is aware who is behind them.
Anyone who tries to publish an online ad linked to the MEP elections must provide official ID to Facebook and proof of where the money behind the ad is sourced.
This information will then be placed on a public “ad library” by Facebook, with a label on any advert explaining who is behind it.