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Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Google and others agree to new EU rules to fight disinformation

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Tech companies operating some of the world’s largest online platforms, including Facebook owner Meta, Microsoft, Google, Twitter, Twitch and TikTok, have signed up for a new EU rulebook to tackle online disinformation.

these companies and others will have to step up their efforts to stop the spread of fake news and propaganda on their platforms, as well as share more detailed data about their work with EU Member States. Announcing its new “Code of Practice on Disinformation”, the European Commission said the guidelines had been shaped in particular by “lessons learned from the COVID19 crisis and the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine”.

“This new anti-disinformation code comes at a time when Russia is using disinformation as a weapon as part of its military aggression against Ukraine, but also when we see attacks on democracy more broadly,” said Věra Jourová, Vice-President of the Commission for Values ​​and transparency. in a press statement.

The code itself contains 44 specific “commitments” to companies targeting a range of potential harms from misinformation. These include commitments to:

  • Create searchable libraries for political ads
  • demonetize fake news sites by removing ad revenue
  • reduce the number of bot networks and fake accounts used to spread disinformation
  • give users more tools to flag disinformation and access “authoritative resources”
  • give researchers “better and broader access to the data from platforms”
  • Work closely with independent fact-checkers to verify information

Many US tech companies like Facebook and Twitter have already taken similar initiatives under pressure from politicians and regulators, but the EU claims its new code of practice will allow for greater oversight of these operations.

Despite the scope of the anti-disinformation code, there are some notable absences. For example, Apple is not a signatory, despite its fast growing advertising business and the code’s focus on demonizing sources of disinformation by shutting down ads. Other major platforms, such as Telegram (which is a important battlefield for propaganda after the Russian invasion of Ukraine), are also absent.

Although the predecessor of these guidelines, 2018 Code of Practice on Disinformationwas entirely voluntary, the EU notes that this new rulebook will be enforced by the new Digital Services Act, or DSA.

“To be credible, the new code of practice will be supported by the DSA – including for severe deterrent sanctions,” EU internal market commissioner Thierry Breton said in a press statement. “Very large platforms that repeatedly violate the Code and fail to take appropriate mitigation measures face fines of up to 6% of their global revenue.”

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