BRUSSELS: Alphabet unit Google will contribute 25 million euros (US$29.3 million) to the newly set up European Media and Information Fund to combat fake news, the company said on Wednesday, amid criticism tech giants are not doing enough to debunk online disinformation.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the U.S. election last year spurred a massive spike in misinformation, with some blaming social media for not being more proactive in tackling the issue while regulators have indicated they may take action via heavy-handed restrictions.
The European Media and Information Fund, launched by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the European University Institute last week, aims to enlist researchers, fact-checkers, not-for-profits and other public interest-oriented bodies to help in the fight against fake news.
"While navigating the uncertainty and challenges of the last year, it has proven more important than ever for people to access accurate information, and sort facts from fiction," Matt Brittin, head of Google's EMEA Business & Operations, said in a blog post.
The fund has a duration of five years. The European Digital Media Observatory, which is a European Commission project set up last year and whose members include fact checkers and academic researchers, will evaluate and select the projects. (This story corrects to 25 million euros from dollars)
(US$1 = 0.8531 euros)
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Bernadette Baum)