BRUSSELS -- The European Union has launched public consultations on "fake news" and online disinformation, and will also set up a group of experts in an effort to map out an EU strategy for tackling these threats by the spring of 2018.
The European Commission set the consultations in motion on November 13, amid persistent concerns about what Western officials say are Russian efforts to sway public opinion and influence elections.
The EU wants citizens, social-media platforms, news organizations, researchers, and public authorities to contribute to the consultations through mid-February, with a focus on what the EU has done so far and what it can do in the future.
The expert group, which is to include representatives of civil society and academia, is expected to start work in early January.
The moves come after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker tasked the commissioner for the digital economy and society, Mariya Gabriel, to "look into the challenges the online platforms create for our democracies with regard to the spread of fake information and initiate a reflection on what would be needed at EU level to protect our citizens."