The EU Commission wants to take stronger action against disinformation on the Internet in the future with an extended code of conduct. The signatories – including platforms, technology companies, and representatives of civil society – have thus followed the guidelines of the Commission from 2021 and have also taken into account the lessons from the COVID-19 crisis and from the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, according to the EU Commission.
The new code contains far-reaching and concrete obligations for platforms and the entire industry with regard to the fight against disinformation. Specifically, the new code contains the following obligations:
- Broader Participation: The code is not only applicable to large platforms, but also to a wide range of different actors who have a role to play in curbing the spread of disinformation. More signatories are welcome;
- Reduce financial incentives for spreading disinformation by ensuring that those who spread disinformation do not receive advertising revenue;
- Detecting new manipulative behaviors such as using fake accounts, bots or malicious deepfakes to spread disinformation;
- Empowering users with better tools to make it easier for them to identify, understand and report disinformation;
Extending fact -checking to all EU countries and their languages, ensuring that fact-checkers are properly remunerated for their work;
- Transparency in political advertising by allowing users to easily identify political advertising thanks to better labeling and information about sponsors, costs and distribution periods;
- Better support for researchers by facilitating their access to the platforms’ data;
- Assessing own impact through a robust monitoring framework and regular reporting by platforms on how they meet their commitments;
- Establishment of a Transparency Center and Task Force to provide a simple and transparent overview of the Code’s implementation and to ensure that the Code remains future-proof and fit for purpose.
The Commission also wants the code to be recognized as a code of conduct under the Digital Services Act to mitigate the risks posed by disinformation on very large online platforms.
Signatories, including Meta, Google, Twitter, TikTok and Microsoft, now have six months to implement their commitments and the actions they have committed to. In early 2023 they will present their first implementation reports to the Commission.
Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said: ” Disinformation is a form of invasion of our digital space that has a tangible impact on our daily lives. Online platforms need to take much more vigorous action against this, especially with regard to the question of funding.
Nobody should get a single euro for spreading disinformation. To increase its credibility, the new code of conduct is underpinned by the Digital Services Act, which also provides for severe and dissuasive sanctions. Very large platforms that repeatedly breach the code and fail to take adequate risk mitigation measures risk fines of up to 6% of their global revenue .”
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