US, Italy agree to work together to counter spread of misinformation

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani speak to the members of the media in the Treaty Room of the State Department in Washington

By Angelo Amante

CAPRI, Italy (Reuters) - The United States and Italy agreed on Wednesday to coordinate efforts to counter the spread of misinformation and fake news articles by foreign governments.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani agreed on the new pact during a meeting on the sidelines of a three-day meeting of Group of Seven (G7) foreign ministers on the island of Capri.

The U.S. last year released an intelligence assessment sent to more than 100 countries that accused Moscow of using spies, social media and Russian state-run media to erode public faith in the integrity of democratic elections.

Last week, Belgium said its prosecutors were probing alleged Russian attempts to influence an upcoming European Parliamentary election.

Russia has repeatedly denied that it has ever intervened in foreign elections and said last month that it would not meddle in the November 2024 U.S. vote.

An eight-page document outlining the Italy-U.S. agreement said the two nations would "establish and implement strategies and practices to counter information manipulation by foreign states" and promote "transparency in media financing and ownership," including the role of governments.

The memorandum also included a commitment to assist other countries against foreign attempts to interfere in their elections. It did not specifically name any country behind such attempts.

The two countries also pledged to invest in artificial intelligence (AI) tools to tackle the spread of fake news and to create a shared database on detected manipulation activities.

(Reporting by Angelo Amante; editing by Crispian Balmer and Rosalba O'Brien)