EU stalls on fake news laws

False stories have been a hot topic since Donald Trump won the US election in November

EU stalls on fake news laws

Niall Carson PA Wire / PA Images

European Commissioner for the Digital Single Market has warned that social media companies need to take action to combat the spread of fake news.

Andrus Ansip said that he hopes the EU will not need to intervene and create laws to compel these firms to take action on the issue.

"I am worried, as all people are worried, about fake news, especially after the elections in the United States ... I really believe in self-regulatory measures but if some kind of clarifications are needed then we will be ready for that," he told The Financial Times.

Since November's vote in the US, Facebook has unveiled its plans to deal with the issue, which include new ways of flagging false stories, help for fact checkers, and greater collaboration with media outlets.

The Estonian politician said that social media companies are facing a "turning point" and that they risk losing the trust of their users if they do not tackle the issue.

"It was common to think that the role of quality media would decrease and the role of social media would increase, and be more important. If there will be fake news, you cannot trust those sources any more, then you will return back to quality media," he added.

Politicians in Germany have considered moves to introduce fines for social media companies who do not block the spread of fake news ahead of its election season.

A series of studies have found that fake new spread during the US election campaign did not have an impact on the result.