Insights European Commission Code of Practice on Disinformation: new reports available in the Transparency Centre


The 2022 Code of Practice on Disinformation contains a number of commitments including  de-monetising the dissemination of disinformation (e.g. avoiding the placement of advertising next to disinformation), ensuring users can easily recognise political advertising, reducing manipulative behaviour used to spread disinformation (e.g. fake accounts, malicious deep fakes), providing users with tools to recognise and flag disinformation, and providing automated access to non-personal, anonymised, aggregated or public data to support research on disinformation.  Organisations may sign up to all of the Code’s commitments or select only those they consider relevant to the services they offer in the EEA.  Further, by signing the Code, signatories commit to creating a Transparency Centre, accessible to all citizens, to permit an overview of the implementation of the Code.

Disinformation is false or misleading content spread with the intention to deceive, but for the purposes of the Code it includes misinformation, which is false or misleading content spread without harmful intent.

The Code has 34 signatories including Twitch, X, Meta, Google, Microsoft and TikTok.  It aims to be a Code of Conduct recognised under the provisions of the Digital Services Act (“DSA”) relating to Very Large Online Platforms (VLOPs) (defined under the DSA as online platforms having 45 million or more average monthly active users in the EU) who are subject to stricter obligations under the DSA than other online platforms falling under the DSA.  Further, the Code states that signing up to all the Code commitments should be considered as a possible risk mitigation measure under the DSA and, as such, could facilitate compliance by VLOPs with their DSA obligations.

Reporting is a key part of the Code which provides that, by the beginning of 2023, all signatories must file baseline reports with the European Commission on their implementation of the Code.  Subsequently, VLOPs must report every six months, while other signatories must report annually.

The first full implementation reports from the VLOP signatories have now been published on the Transparency Centre, covering the previous six-month period.  The reports follow the harmonised reporting template consisting of 152 reporting elements (111 qualitative reporting elements and 42 service level indicators/quantitative indicators).  For the first time, signatories also provided limited reporting against a set of structural indicators aimed at assessing the prevalence and sources of disinformation.  The Commission hopes that signatories will develop and report against additional structural indicators in future.

The reports provide insight into how much advertising revenue flowing to disinformation actors is prevented, the number or value of political advertisements that were accepted and labelled, and instances of manipulative behaviours detected.  In particular, the reports revealed insights into signatories’ action to reduce disinformation around Russia’s war in Ukraine and provided information on signatories’ efforts to provide safeguards regarding new generative AI systems on their services.

For more information, click here and here.  To access the Code, click here.