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Brussels mulls regulatory action against fake news

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Brussels mulls regulatory action against fake news

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(BRUSSELS) - Online platforms need to show more accountability, responsibility and transparency, the EU Commission said Thursday, as it presented its assessment of the effectiveness of the EU Code of Practice on Disinformation.

"The time has come to go beyond self-regulatory measures," said EC vice-president Vera Jourova: "Europe is best placed to lead the way and propose instruments for more resilient and fair democracy in an increasingly digital world."

The EU executive has been working with online platforms and advertising associations to monitor the effective implementation of the commitments set forth in the Code of Practice on Disinformation. The assessment of the Code covers its initial 12 months of operation.

Positive outcomes, according to the Commission are an increase in platforms' accountability and public scrutiny of the measures taken by the signatories to counter disinformation within the EU.

However, the quality of the information disclosed by the Code's signatories is still insufficient and shortcomings limit the effectiveness of the Code, it adds.

The assessment identifies the following shortcomings:

  • the absence of relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess the effectiveness of platforms' policies to counter the phenomenon;
  • the lack of clearer procedures, commonly shared definition and more precise commitments;
  • the lack of access to data allowing for an independent evaluation of emerging trends and threats posed by online disinformation;
  • missing structured cooperation between platforms and the research community;
  • the need to involve other relevant stakeholders, in particular from the advertising sector.

Action under the Code has led an increase in the prominence given to authoritative sources of information, says the report, and availability of new tools to users to critically assess online content and report possible abuses.

The crisis has also resulted in a stepping up of collaborations with fact-checkers and researchers and, in certain cases, the demoting or removing of content fact-checked as false or misleading and potentially harmful to people health.

Also today, the Commission published first baseline reports on the actions taken by the signatories of the Code to fight false and misleading coronavirus-related information until 31 July.

This includes initiatives to:

  • promote and give visibility to authoritative content at EU and Member State level. For example, Google Search gave prominence to articles published by EU fact-checking organisations, which generated more than 155 million impressions over the first half of 2020 and LinkedIn sent the "European Daily Rundown", a curated news summary by experienced journalist, to close to 10 million EU interested members.
  • improve users' awareness: Facebook and Instagram directed more than 2 billion people to resources from health authorities, including the WHO.
  • Detect and hamper manipulative behaviour: Twitter challenged more than 3.4 million suspicious accounts targeting coronavirus discussion.
  • Limit advertising linked to coronavirus disinformation to prevent advertisers from capitalising on them. All platforms have facilitated coronavirus-related ads from public health authorities and healthcare organisations.

Assessment of the Code of Practice on Disinformation – Achievements and areas for further improvement

Code of Practice on Disinformation

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