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Strengthening the Code of Practice on Disinformation

Strengthening the Code of Practice on Disinformation
26 May 2021

Today, the European Commission releases its guidance on how to strengthen the Code of Practice on Disinformation, the first one in the world, to become a more effective device for countering disinformation. This guidance lays down Commission expectations, calls for stronger commitments by the signatories and anticipates wider participation to the Code. Based on a tough monitoring framework and performance indicators, signatories should reduce financial incentives to disinformation, enable users to take an active role in preventing its spread, better cooperate with fact-checkers across EU Member States and languages, and provide a framework for access to data for researchers.

The Guidance calls for strengthening the Code by reinforcing it in the following areas:

  • Greater participation with customized commitments. The Commission encourages platforms active in the EU, relevant stakeholders, private messaging services, as well as stakeholders that can contribute with resources or expertise to the Code's effective functioning, to join the Code.
  • Demonetise disinformation. Platforms and players in the online advertising ecosystem must take responsibility and better cooperate to defund disinformation by exchanging information on disinformation ads refused by one of the signatories, improving transparency and accountability around ad placements and barring participation by actors that systematically post debunked content.
  • Guarantee the integrity of services. The strengthened Code should provide comprehensive coverage of the current and emerging forms of manipulative behaviour used to spread disinformation, and include tailored commitments to ensure transparency and accountability of measures taken to reduce its impact.
  • Empower users to understand and flag disinformation. Users need to have access to tools to better understand and safely navigate the online environment. The signatories must make their recommender systems, i.e. the way users see content, transparent and take measures to mitigate the risks that these fuel, such as the viral spread of disinformation. The strengthened code should also enhance the visibility of reliable information of public interest, and warn users who interacted with content marked as false by fact-checkers.
  • Boost the coverage of fact-checking and providing increased access to data to researchers. The new Code should include better cooperation with fact-checkers and increase coverage across EU countries and languages. The strengthened Code should also include a robust framework for access to data for researchers.
  • A robust monitoring framework. The strengthened Code should include an improved monitoring framework based on clear key performance indicators (KPIs) measuring the results and impact of actions taken by the platforms as well as the overall impact of the Code on disinformation in the EU.

 

The signatories should create a Transparency Centre where they indicate which policies they adopted, how they have been enforced, and display all the data and metrics relevant to the KPIs. It was also proposed the establishment of a permanent task force chaired by the Commission. It would be composed of signatories, representatives from the European External Action Service, the European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA) and from the European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO) that received more than €11 million to create 8 regional hubs to help implement and expand its work in the EU.

Image © European Commission, 2018

 

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