Trudeau announces 'digital charter,' tells social media companies to fight fake news or be fined

Trudeau announces 'digital charter,' tells social media companies to fight fake news or be fined

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said social platforms were “failing their users” on Thursday, while speaking at the Viva Technology conference in Paris.

He said his government would hold companies to account for fake news, and that they had to make major improvements to their means of dealing with the issue or there would be “meaningful financial consequences.”

“The platforms are failing their users. And they’re failing our citizens. They have to step up in a major way to counter disinformation, and if they don’t, we will hold them to account and there will be meaningful financial consequences,” he said Thursday.

The prime minister also attended a meeting of world leaders on Wednesday to discuss online extremism, co-chaired by French President Emmanuel Macron and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

His government was one of many to sign on to the “Christchurch Call,” a pledge taken by governments and CEOs of tech companies to take action against violent terrorist and extremist content online.

Referring to the Christchurch attacks in New Zealand in which a lone gunman killed 51 people at two mosques and live streamed the event on Facebook, he said it was now “time to talk about policy.”

“It’s up to the platforms and governments to take their responsibility seriously and ensure that people are protected online. You don’t have to put the blame on people like Mark Zuckerberg or dismiss the benefits of social platforms to know that we can’t rely exclusively on companies to protect the public interest,” Trudeau continued.

He announced that Canada would be launching a digital charter, touching on principles including universal access and transparency and serving as a guide to craft new digital policy.

Speaking about Canada’s upcoming federal election, he said the government was taking steps to eliminate fake news and that a new task force had been created in order to identify threats to the election and prevent foreign interference.