A self-regulatory Code of Practice has been agreed upon by representatives of online platforms, leading social networks, and advertisers on a voluntary basis for the first time. The code addresses the spread of online disinformation and fake news.
Fake news and online disinformation is an issue which needs to be addressed globally and throughout Europe and in April 2018, the Commission put forward an action plan with self-regulatory tools to ensure the protection of European values and democratic systems throughout the elimination of online disinformation. This Code of Practice is the first industry regulation since the communication was released.
The signatories of the code have committed to five main areas of action, these include:
- Disrupting advertising revenues of certain accounts and websites that spread disinformation
- Making political advertising and issue based advertising more transparent
- Addressing the issue of fake accounts and online bots
- Empowering consumers to report disinformation and access different news sources, while improving the visibility and findability of authoritative content
- Empowering the research community to monitor online disinformation through privacy-compliant access to the platforms’ data.
How has the Commission responded to the self-regulatory Code of Practice on online disinformation?
Following on from the implementation of the code, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Mariya Gabriel released a statement expressing a positive outlook for the future, welcoming the step in the right direction. Gabriel said: “The industry is committing to a wide range of actions, from transparency in political advertising to the closure of fake accounts and demonetisation of purveyors of disinformation, and we welcome this. These actions should contribute to a fast and measurable reduction of online disinformation. To this end, the Commission will pay particular attention to its effective implementation.”
Gabriel also noted the importance of its widespread implementation saying: “I urge online platforms and the advertising industry to immediately start implementing the actions agreed in the Code of Practice to achieve significant progress and measurable results in the coming months. I also expect more and more online platforms, advertising companies and advertisers to adhere to the Code of Practice, and I encourage everyone to make their utmost to put their commitments into practice to fight disinformation.”