Bratislava, Slovakia – In a bid to safeguard the integrity of Slovakia’s upcoming election scheduled for September 30, the European Commission and the Slovakian government have issued a stern warning to social media giants Alphabet, TikTok, and Meta (formerly Facebook) to intensify efforts to combat foreign interference on their platforms, or potentially face significant fines under the European Union’s new Digital Services Act.
The concerns stem from growing fears among European and Slovakian regulators that disinformation campaigns and pro-Kremlin propaganda are gaining traction among local social media users, including supporters of Robert Fico, the controversial former Prime Minister of Slovakia. Fico’s party is currently leading in the polls, and his call for ending military support to Ukraine has raised eyebrows across the continent.
In a series of confidential meetings held in Bratislava during the week of September 11, officials from the European Commission and the Slovakian government underscored the need for social media companies to allocate additional resources to combat hate speech, disinformation, and pro-Russia narratives in the run-up to the crucial election.
Two European Commission officials, a high-ranking Slovakian policymaker, and three tech executives attended the meetings under conditions of anonymity. The discussions revolved around the urgent need to safeguard the electoral process from external manipulation.
Slovakia’s upcoming election represents a pivotal test for the EU’s recently implemented digital regulations, which demand that social media platforms take proactive measures to eradicate illegal content and foreign propaganda. Failure to comply with these rules could result in fines of up to 6 percent of a company’s annual global revenue.
Although executives from Elon Musk’s Twitter, now rebranded as X, were also invited to participate in the discussions, they failed to attend, leaving questions about their commitment to addressing these critical issues. The company has yet to respond to requests for comment regarding their absence. Meanwhile, Meta, Alphabet, and TikTok declined to comment on the meetings in Bratislava.
Tech executives who engaged with EU regulators and government officials characterized the meetings as constructive. They emphasized their ongoing efforts to moderate local content and collaborate with Slovakian fact-checking groups. Additionally, these companies highlighted internal policy changes aimed at tackling potentially harmful content.
As Slovakia’s election date approaches, all eyes are on whether Europe’s new social media regulations will prove effective in curbing foreign interference. With the populist Smer-SD party leading in the polls, the outcome of the election could have far-reaching implications, potentially affecting Slovakia’s stance on crucial issues like its support for Ukraine.
The world awaits the outcome of Slovakia’s election, while social media giants face mounting pressure to ensure that their platforms remain a safe and reliable space for democratic discourse.