Assessing the Code of Practice on Disinformation: ERGA’s Recommendations

posted on 12 May, 2020   (public)


Greater transparency, stronger commitments and a harmonised framework for a truly co-regulatory approach 

The European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA) has been requested to assist the European Commission in assessing the effectiveness of the Code of Practice on Disinformation*, based on two prior monitoring phases of its implementation by the signatory platforms. This ERGA Report presents the outcomes of the monitoring phases and assesses the implementation of the Code, suggesting recommendations to improve its effectiveness.

In general, ERGA underlines the lack of data and mechanisms to independently check and assess the self-reporting by the platforms, the requirement for harmonised definitions and uniformity in the implementation process and the need for a truly co-regulatory approach.

As a result, the report makes some  recommendations aimed at:

  • Improving the monitoring of the existing Code’s commitments by drafting relevant common definitions (such as political ad, issue-based ad…) and guidelines related to the platforms’ relationship with external parties (fact-checkers, consumers and the research community). Moreover, NRAs should have a better access to platforms data through a common dataset, country specific information and monitoring tools' framework that the platforms would have to fulfil on a regular basis.
  • Expanding the existing Code’s commitments by drafting recommendations to platforms aimed at harmonising the implementation of their commitments and by encouraging the other main platforms to sign the Code.
  • Exploring new tools to counter disinformation by adding incentive mechanisms and enforcement elements to point toward a more co-regulatory approach with, for instance, 'clear reporting obligations, more harmonised procedures and appropriate timeframes'. In this regard, ERGA refers to the announced Digital Services Act as an opportunity to provide an overall framework for online content regulation, including the fight against disinformation and applying to all platforms distributing content in Europe; 

Furthermore, the ERGA report calls for a higher number of signatories, to include significant platforms such as Messenger, WhatsApp and Tik-Tok and advocates for intensive cooperation between ERGA and the newly established European Digital Media Observatory.



Source: ERGA

* Further Background: the initiative of the European Commission, in October 2018, several major online platforms (Facebook, Google, Twitter and Mozilla - joined later by Microsoft) and actors of the advertising industry agreed to sign a Code of Practice on Disinformation, aimed at addressing the digital spread of information disorders and based on five Pillars: A – Scrutiny of ad placements / B – Political advertising and issue-based advertising / C – Integrity of services / D – Empowering consumers / E – Empowering the research community.