EU pushes for stronger disinformation rules


The European Commission is pushing for stronger rules around online disinformation, according to guidance released Wednesday

The guidance calls for reinforcing the European Union’s Code of Practice on Disinformation with stronger commitments from the tech companies that have signed onto the code that was launched in 2018.

The guidance notably urges the code to be updated to call for tech companies to demonetize content with disinformation. 

“Threats posed by disinformation online are fast evolving and we need to step up our collective action to empower citizens and protect the democratic information space,” Věra Jourová, vice president for values and transparency, said in a statement. 

“A new stronger Code is necessary as we need online platforms and other players to address the systemic risks of their services and algorithmic amplification, stop policing themselves alone and stop allowing to make money on disinformation, while fully preserving the freedom of speech.”

Other updates the guidance calls for include urging the companies to provide users with accessible tools to flag disinformation, and to increase their coverage of fact-checking and provide more data access to researchers. 

Additionally, the guidance calls for the companies to develop a Transparency Centre where they will note the policies they adopt to implement the commitments in the code, how they have been enforced, and relevant data and metrics. 

U.S.-based companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter are among platforms that have signed onto the code of practice so far, according to The Associated Press. 

Sinéad McSweeney, Twitter’s VP of public policy for the European region, said the platform welcomes the commission’s guidance. 

“Regionally consistent co-regulatory standards are a crucial element in maintaining the Open Internet, ensuring that platforms of all sizes can operate with confidence around agreed norms. We look forward to continuing to work with the Commission and all stakeholders to ensure meaningful transparency and user choice to tackle the ever changing landscape of disinformation,” McSweeney said in a statement.

Spokespeople for Google and Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The commission will call upon signatories of the code to convene and strengthen the code in line with the guidance.

Updated at 12:55 p.m.

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