Road to EU 2024

EU Political Parties and Tech Giants Commit to Cleaner Elections

April 2024
By Eliott Capa

In a crucial step for the integrity of the upcoming European elections, EU political parties have forged a pact for cleaner campaigning by signing a code of conduct that promises unprecedented fairness and ethical rigor. This initiative, orchestrated by Commission Vice President Vera Jourová and the Stockholm-based International IDEA, aims to temper growing concerns about the manipulative use of digital technologies, including deepfakes.

The signing ceremony saw participation from a broad spectrum of parties, from the center-right to the center-left of European politics, demonstrating a united front against dishonest electoral tactics. However, the right-wing ‘Identity and Democracy’ group opted for a less public signing, perhaps reflecting a more marked political caution.

Simultaneously, tech giants like Meta and TikTok are not just standing by. Meta has committed to further enhancing its already formidable fact-checking infrastructure, with an investment of over $20 billion to ensure that digital falsehoods do not tarnish the democratic process. The company has also established an Election Operations Center aimed at identifying and neutralizing threats in real-time, showing a commitment that is both financial and technological.

TikTok, on the other hand, has focused on educating and informing by launching in-app Election Centers in 27 EU languages. These centers not only act as bulwarks against misinformation but also serve as reliable sources of electoral information, ensuring that fake news is debunked before it can do any harm.

Both platforms also closely align with the new code of conduct and emerging EU legislation on political advertising, which demands transparency and honesty in political ads, marking a significant change from previous elections when the absence of clear rules allowed deceptive campaigns to thrive in the digital shadows.

The adoption of this code by political parties and the support from social media platforms represent a dual defense against the pollution of the European political arena. It not only promotes open democratic debate but also seeks to preserve the sanctity of the vote in an era where truth can easily be distorted by algorithms and hidden interests.

This collective move, which goes beyond mere promises and translates into concrete actions, could very well serve as a model for other global democracies looking to protect their electoral processes from digital erosion. It remains to be seen how these commitments will be implemented and whether they will be sufficient to ensure free, fair, and uninfluenced European elections against increasingly sophisticated disinformation campaigns.