Google, Facebook, Twitter must combat Ukraine fake news - Polish, Baltic leaders

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Facebook, Google and Twitter logos are seen in this combination photo from Reuters files. REUTERS/

BRUSSELS, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Alphabet (GOOGL.O) unit Google and its subsidiary YouTube, Facebook (FB.O) and Twitter (TWTR.N) must do more to tackle disinformation related to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the premiers of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia said.

In a joint letter to the chief executives of the four companies dated Feb. 27, the four prime ministers criticised the U.S. tech giants, saying what they have done so far is inadequate.

"Although the online platforms have undertaken significant efforts to address the Russian government's unprecedented assault on truth, they have not done enough," they said in the letter.

"Russia's disinformation has been tolerated on online platforms for years; they are now an accessory to the criminal war of aggression the Russian government is conducting against Ukraine and the free world."

They urged the companies to proactively suspend accounts denying, glorifying or justifying wars of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

They also urged the tech giants to suspend the official accounts of Russian and Belarusian government institutions, state-controlled media and personal accounts of the countries' leadership and their associates that consistently disseminate disinformation about the situation in Ukraine.

The countries called on the companies to prevent Russian state-controlled media from circumventing restrictions imposed by several national regulators against them.

The online platforms should adjust their search and recommendation algorithms to inform users of disinformation and immediately demonetise all accounts controlled by the Russian and Belarusian governments, they said.

Facebook referred to a Sunday tweet by its vice-president Nick Clegg which said the company was reviewing other government requests to restrict Russian state-controlled media.

It will continue to label and fact-check these outlets as well as prohibit ads and demonetise their accounts globally, the tweet added.

Google and Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Russian state-controlled news service Sputnik said on Monday its Polish site was no longer available to users, and that Youtube had subsequently banned its account in Poland.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington, D.C; Editing by Jan Harvey

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Thomson Reuters

Award-winning journalist, leads a multimedia team covering EU affairs, NATO and news from both Belgium and the Netherlands. Previously editor for Southeast Asia, responsible for Reuters news coverage from 11 countries stretching from Indonesia to Indochina. Prior to that led Reuters editorial operations in India and the rest of the subcontinent, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, and was also Asia editor for political and general news, based in Singapore.