In 2024, the‘EU is taking unprecedented steps to combat online disinformation in the run-up to the European elections. It will require platforms like Facebook and TikTok to put systems in place to detect AI-generated content. The goal is to limit the spread of false information created by AI that could manipulate the electoral process.
The risks of AI-generated misinformation
Generative AI poses new challenges to combat misinformation. Techniques like deepfake make it possible to create videos and manipulated content in a hyper-realistic way. This content can mislead voters by spreading false information about candidates and political issues.
During the 2020 US elections, deepfakes of candidates circulated, blurring the lines between true and false. The dissemination of biased AI-generated election polls could also influence voting intentions.
According to the European Commission, generative AI represents a serious threat to democracy in Europe. Without regulation, these technologies could be misused to manipulate public opinion on a large scale. Massive disinformation campaigns aimed at discrediting certain candidates or parties could impact the results of the election.
In addition, the anonymity allowed by AI makes it very difficult to identify the source of the manipulations. This can be used to conceal foreign influence operations aimed at interfering in the European electoral process.
Measures taken by the EU
The Commission wants platforms to put in place automated detection systems for synthetic content generated by AI. Concretely, they will have to scan images, videos and audio to identify deepfakes before publication.
AI-generated content will need to be clearly identified, with a warning that it is not authentic media. The platforms will be held responsible in the event of failure to comply with these obligations.
Exceptions are provided for certain positive uses AI technologies, such as satire and entertainment. However, the priority is to limit the risks of large-scale manipulation during electoral campaigns.
The Commission also plans to strengthen transparency on online political advertisements. Advertisers should disclose when they use AI techniques to target voters.
Finally, awareness campaigns will be carried out to teach citizens to detect content manipulated by AI. Media and information education remains crucial for developing critical thinking in the face of these threats.
Faced with the emergence of generative AI technologies, the EU is mobilizing to avoid any interference in the 2024 elections. The challenge is to stimulate innovation while protecting our democracies against growing digital threats.
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