Facebook, Google and other tech firms have agreed a code of conduct to do more to tackle the spread of fake news, due to concerns it can influence elections, the European Commission said on Wednesday.
“Intended to stave off more heavy-handed legislation, the voluntary code covers closer scrutiny of advertising on accounts and websites where fake news appears.
“Thereby working with fact checkers to filter it out,’’ the commission said.
However, a group of media advisors criticised the companies, also including Twitter and lobby groups for the advertising industry for failing to present more concrete measures.
Brussels, with EU parliamentary elections scheduled for May, is anxious to address the threat of foreign interference during campaigning.
Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Poland, Portugal and Ukraine are also all due to hold national elections in 2019.
Russia has faced allegations, which it denies, of disseminating false information to influence the U.S. presidential election and Britain’s referendum on EU membership in 2016 as well as Germany’s national election in 2017.
The commission told the firms in April to draft a code of practice, or face regulatory action over what it said was their failure to do enough to remove misleading or illegal content.
European Digital Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said that Facebook, Google, Twitter, Mozilla and advertising groups had responded with several measures.
“The industry is committing to a wide range of actions, from transparency in political advertising to the closure of fake accounts and we welcome this,” she said in a statement.
The steps also include rejecting payment from sites that spread fake news, helping users understand why they have been targeted by specific ads, and distinguishing ads from editorial content.
However, the advisory group criticised the code, saying the companies had not offered measurable objectives to monitor its implementation.
“The platforms, despite their best efforts, have not been able to deliver a code of practice within the accepted meaning of effective and accountable self-regulation,” the group said, giving no further details.
Its members include the Association of Commercial Television in Europe, the European Broadcasting Union, the European Federation of Journalists and International Fact-Checking Network, and several academics.
The business cycle in South Africa, where the economy entered its first recession in almost a decade in the second quarter, is in its longest downward phase since records started in 1945. It entered a 58th straight month of declines in September, central bank data showed Tuesday. The regulator monitors about 200 indicators representing economic processes such as production, sales, employment and prices to determine the direction of the trend.
Ghana’s Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta said the country is preparing to sell $5 billion to $10 billion in century bonds by the end of the year at a time when rising U.S. rates are making investors wary of emerging-market debt. The cedi fell to a record.
In what will be the world’s biggest sovereign issuance of 100-year dollar-denominated securities and the first by an African country should the deal proceed, Ghana is planning to raise the debt as the first tranche of a $50 billion bond, Ofori-Atta said in an interview Tuesday in the capital, Accra. The $50 billion will be raised “in bits” through a shelf offering, which allows issuers to a register a security without selling the entire issue at once, said Ofori-Atta.
The sale will help Ghana to pay off existing debt, build factories and overcome an estimated shortfall of $7 billion in annual infrastructure spending, said Ofori-Atta. More detail about the bond will be made public when he presents the country’s budget for 2019 to lawmakers on Nov. 15, said Ofori-Atta.
“It sounds optimistic,” Kieran Curtis, a money manager in London at Aberdeen Standard Investments, which owns Ghanaian bonds, said by telephone. “It’s difficult to believe there is $10 billion of demand out there. This would be outside what you’d expect for their financing needs.”
Ghana’s issuance plan comes at a time when emerging-market dollar-bond sales are dwindling as rising U.S. rates dampen investor appetite for high-yielding assets. Average yields on emerging-market dollar debt have climbed almost 100 basis points since April amid a sell-off sparked by crises in Argentina and Turkey, according to Bloomberg indexes.
The cedi on Wednesday slipped the most since July on a closing basis, falling 2.6 percent and breaching 5 per dollar for the first time on record. It traded at 5.0013 by 7:11 a.m. in Accra, bringing its drop for the year to almost 10 percent.
Only China, Argentina and Mexico have previously issued 100-year dollar debt, of which Mexico’s $2.7 billion deal in October 2010 was the biggest. Yields on Ghana’s 2049 dollar bonds were little changed on Wednesday after rising 3 basis points to 8.63 percent on Tuesday, the most in a week.
An issuance by year-end will be Ghana’s second sale of Eurobonds in 2018 after raising $2 billion in 10- and 30-year securities in May. Earlier this year, the country weighed selling so-called Panda bonds in mainland China and Samurai notes in Japan before abandoning the idea.
Ghana is in the final year of an almost $1 billion bailout program with the International Monetary Fund that started in 2015 after the value of the cedi collapsed and debt ballooned.
Total public debt measured 65.9 percent of gross domestic product at the end of July, compared with 67.4 percent at the same time in 2017, according to the central bank’s data. External debt totaled $18.2 billion, 54 percent of the total $33.9 billion of debt, according to the central bank.