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Google unveils changes before strict EU rules kick in

Google is promising to publish detailed transparency reports
Google is promising to publish detailed transparency reports.

Google vowed Thursday to be more transparent about content moderation across its services, including its ubiquitous search engine, as tech firms rush to meet stricter European Union rules that kick in this week.

Sweeping rules will apply from Friday to Google, alongside 18 other large social media platforms and websites including Meta-owned Instagram, Twitter (rebranded as X) and TikTok, forcing the companies to better police content, or face the risk of billions of euros in fines.

Among the Google products listed were YouTube, Google Maps, Play, Search, and Shopping.

The wide-ranging Digital Services Act (DSA) means the EU will be able to get a closer peek at the 19 platforms—labeled as "very large" because they have at least 45 million monthly active users—and how their algorithms work.

The DSA means stricter regulation on targeted advertising, and forces firms to implement a better mechanism to flag and remove illegal content.

Google's latest steps include expanding its "Ads Transparency Center", where users will find more information about targeting for ads in the European Union, and giving researchers more data access to understand how Google's products work in practice.

The measures were announced in a blog post by Laurie Richardson, Google's vice president for trust and safety, and Jennifer Flannery O'Connor, YouTube's vice president for product management.

They also said Google would publish transparency reports with extra information about how content moderation has been handled for more of its services including Maps, Play, Search, and Shopping.

The DSA compels the internet's biggest players to assess the risks associated with the use of their services and take appropriate action to mitigate those risks.

In the past weeks, the biggest tech companies including TikTok have announced the steps they have taken to comply with the DSA, vowing to give users more control over their feeds on popular social media websites like Instagram and Facebook.

© 2023 AFP

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