EU's Breton tells Facebook's Zuckerberg the fake news buck stops with him

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU industry chief Thierry Breton on Monday warned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that his social media firm and other tech giants may be subjected to tough rules if they do not step up efforts to take down disinformation.

“When you are the CEO, at the end of the day, you are the only one to be responsible, no one else,” Breton said during an online event organised by the Centre on Regulation in Europe (CERRE).

Breton told Zuckerberg three months ago, during a visit to Brussels, that he must adapt to Europe’s standards, and not the other way round.

Regulators around the world have urged social platforms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter to do more to stop the flow of disinformation, especially coronavirus-related fake news.

“It’s a huge issue. We have discussions with many persons including Mark and I really appreciate the efforts. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t,” Breton said.

“At the end of the day, the mission of the CEO is to listen to everyone, then to take a decision. At the end of the day, it will be Mark who will be responsible and nobody else.”

He said strong regulations would be introduced if the companies did not show progress. The European Commission is currently drafting a digital services act that will rein in U.S. tech giants, especially those seen as gatekeepers to information.

Zuckerberg reiterated his call for governments to regulate harmful online content, saying it was not for companies such as his to decide on the issue.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Kevin Liffey