October 11, 2021
The Commission reports that eight new prospective signatories joined the revision process of the Code of Practice on disinformation during the latest Signatories Assembly meeting on 30 September 2021, expressing their willingness to sign up to commitments under the strengthened version of the Code.
The revision of the Code is based on the Commission’s Guidance published in May 2021, which sets out how the current Code should be strengthened to provide a firm response to disinformation. The list of prospective new signatories includes online video platforms, such as Vimeo, new types of social networks, such as Clubhouse, and advertising technology providers, such as DoubleVerify, as well as organisations that provide specific expertise and technical solutions to fight disinformation, such as Avaaz, Globsec, Logically, NewsGuard, and WhoTargetsMe.
The Commission says that substantial additional efforts are needed to reduce the flow of harmful disinformation, as illustrated by recent electoral campaigns and by the signatories’ reports on the COVID-19 disinformation monitoring programme. The current Code was a good first step in this direction, but the Commission’s Assessment in 2020 revealed significant shortcomings. These include inconsistent and incomplete application of the Code across platforms and Member States, gaps in the coverage of the Code’s commitments, a lack of appropriate monitoring mechanisms, a lack of commitments on access to platforms’ data for research on disinformation, and limited participation from stakeholders, in particular from the advertising sector. The Commission expects signatories to follow the Guidance closely when revising the Code.
The Commission calls on all interested parties to join discussions on strengthening the Code as soon as possible. The call is directed at:
- established and emerging platforms active in the EU;
- stakeholders in the online advertising ecosystem (e.g., ad exchanges, ad-tech providers, brands benefitting from ads, communications agencies);
- other businesses providing services that may be used to monetise disinformation (e.g., e-payment services, e-commerce platforms, crowdfunding/donation systems);
- private messaging services; and
- other stakeholders that can contribute with resources or expertise to the Code’s effective functioning.
The Commission anticipates that the strengthened Code will include new tailored commitments corresponding to the size and nature of services provided by signatories, with signatories expected to make commitments in respect of all their services.
The Commission has also published reports from Google, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Microsoft on action taken in July and August to reduce COVID-19 and vaccine disinformation. The European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA) is assisting the Commission with its COVID-19 monitoring programme and is expected to deliver its report in the coming weeks. To read the Commission’s press release in full and for links to further information on the Code and the COVID-19 monitoring programme, click here.