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Google announces company holiday on May 22 to stem coronavirus burnout

By Reuters Time of article published May 9, 2020

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Alphabet Inc's Google said on Friday it has asked employees to take a day off on May 22, to address work-from-home-related burnout during the coronavirus pandemic.

Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai announced the move in a memo to employees on late Thursday, which was first reported by CNBC.

Google said it would begin reopening more offices globally as early as June, but most Google employees would likely work from home until the end of this year.

Facebook Inc also said on Friday it would allow workers who are able to work remotely to do so until the end of 2020.

The virus, which has infected more than 3.9 million people globally so far, has forced strict lockdowns in most countries and changed the way businesses function, with work from home emerging as the new norm. 

Meanwhile, the European Union should strengthen a voluntary pledge, to which Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc's Google and Twitter Inc signed up to combat fake news, with sanctions to make it a more effective tool, a study done for the European Commission said on Friday.

The three US tech giants, together with Mozilla and trade bodies representing the advertising industry, agreed in October 2018 on a self-regulatory code of practice to tackle disinformation in a bid to stave off heavy-handed legislation.

The EU executive has acknowledged the companies' efforts via regular reports but also urged them to do more. Last year, it commissioned a study to look in to the matter.

The study said the code should continue as a basis for further action but noted some shortcomings.

Key among these are the code's self-regulatory nature, the lack of uniformity of implementation and the lack of clarity around its scope and some of the key concepts, the study conducted by consultancy Valdani, Vicari and Associates (VVA) said.

It recommended giving some teeth to the code to ensure compliance.

"The European Commission should consider proposals for co-regulation within which appropriate enforcement mechanisms, sanctions and redress mechanisms should be established," the study said.

Tech lobbying group EDiMA said the code should not be abandoned.

"The outcomes of the code of practice have shown that it is an effective way to address the spread of online disinformation and fake news," Director General Siada El Ramly said. 

Reuters

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