A wider range of stakeholders committed to more transparency, reporting and integrity
On Thursday 16 June 2022, the 2022 Code of Practice on Disinformation was signed by 34 stakeholders, all involved in online disinformation but with very various profiles: online platforms, trade associations, online advertising entities, fact-checkers, civil society and research organisations or tech companies providing relevant tools to fight information disorders.
Built around 44 commitments organised under 9 key areas, the new Code intends to redress the shortcomings of the previous 2018 Code of Practice on Disinformation by providing, notably, more key performance indicators and monitoring mechanisms, transparency and incentive measures to tackle online disinformation*.
The main objectives and commitments of the Code:
1. Sanctionning disinformation content: Focus on demonitisation and political advertising
The online advertising actors commit to:
- Avoiding ad placement next to disinformation content or place that repeatedly publish disinformation;
- Ensuring a clear labelling of paid political content, transparency (meaningful metrics to be published at Member state level) and the implementation of verification processes across all political ads.
The Code sets out commitments for all online advertising actors - from the publishers to the advertisers and including ad agencies - and intends to enhance the cooperation with any relevant player of the monetisation chain (e-payment services, e-commerce platforms, crowd-funding system...).
2. Ensuring transparency and accountability: The integrity of Platforms' services
The signatories commit to:
- Agreeing to a common understanding of manipulative behaviours, actors and practices not permitted on their services and reflecting it in their policies;
- Ensuring the transparency and compliance of their AI systems with the future Artificial Intelligence Act;
- Sharing between themselves information about cross-platform influence operations, foreign interference in information space and relevant incidents that emerge on their respective services.
3. Empowering the online social community (users, fact-checkers, researchers): The access to data and empowering tools
Relevant signatories commit to:
- Increasing media literacy reports, tools and metrics;
- Implementing a "safety-by-design" approach to limit viral propagation and providing tools for users to check the authenticity and trusthworthiness of content;
- Providing continuous and real-time access to non-personal and anonymised data for research purposes;
- Developing, funding, and cooperating with an independent, third-party body that can vet researchers and research proposals;
- Developing a framework for transparent, structured, open, financially sustainable, and non-discriminatory cooperation with the fact-checking community along with the creation of a repository of fact-checking content.
4. Enforcing the Code: A monitoring mechanism
The new Code intends to strenghten the enforcement's assessment, relying both on public scrutiny and self and co-regulation supervisory methods:
- Public scrutiny: Creation of a public common Transparency Centre website, funded by the signatories and gathering all the relevant information related to the implementation of the Code’s Commitments and Measures;
- The Commission's scrutiny: Commitment to regularly report, qualitatively and quantitatively, on the measures implemented based on Qualitative Reporting Elements (QRE) and Service Level Indicators (SLI) laid down in the Code for each measure;
- The Task-force's scrutiny: Chaired by the European Commission and involving representatives of the signatories, the European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA), the European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO) and representatives of the European External Action Service (EEAS), the new Task-force is entitled to supervise and regularly assess the efficiency of the Code.
This new Code invites online players to become a driving force in the understanding of and the fight against disinformation. It remains to be seen if signatories will play their full part and respect their commitments. They have six months to implement these measures.
NB: For Very Large Online Platforms, the 2022 Code of Practice aims to be recognised as a mitigation measure and a Code of Conduct as stated in the Digital Services Act.
*Terms such as Disinformation, political and issue advertising should be understood as defined in the European Union legal framework (for instance, the Digital Services Act and the coming European Democracy Action Plan).
Source: The European Commission