European Commission welcomes updated Code of Practice on disinformation

June 16, 2022

The European Commission has announced the publication of the strengthened Code of Practice on Disinformation, which builds on the 2018 edition. The 34 signatories, such as platforms and tech companies considered Commission guidance and considered the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. The new Code sets out extensive and precise commitments by platforms and industry to fight disinformation and marks an important step aiming for a more transparent, safe and trustworthy online environment.

Together with the recently agreed Digital Services Act and proposed upcoming legislation on transparency and targeting of political advertising, the strengthened Code of Practice is viewed as an essential part of the Commission’s toolbox for fighting the spread of disinformation in the EU.

The 34 signatories include major online platforms, notably Meta, Google, Twitter, TikTok, and Microsoft, as well as a variety of other organisations like smaller or specialised platforms, the online ad industry, ad-tech companies, fact-checkers, civil society or that offer specific expertise and solutions to fight disinformation.

The new Code contains commitments to:

  • Broaden participation: the Code is not just for big platforms, but also involves a variety of diverse organisations with a role in mitigating the spread of disinformation, and more signatories are welcome to join;
  • Cut financial incentives for spreading disinformation by ensuring that spreaders of disinformation do not benefit from advertising revenues;
  • Cover modern manipulative behaviours such as fake accounts, bots or malicious deep fakes spreading disinformation;
  • Empower users with better tools to recognise, understand and flag disinformation;
  • Expand fact-checking in all EU countries and all its languages, while making sure fact-checkers are fairly rewarded for their work;
  • Ensure transparent political advertising by allowing users to easily recognise political ads thanks to better labelling and information on sponsors, spend and display period;
  • Better support researchers by giving them better access to platforms’ data;
  • Evaluate its own impact through a strong monitoring framework and regular reporting from platforms on how they are implementing their commitments; and
  • Set up a Transparency Centre and Task Force for an easy and transparent overview of the implementation of the Code, with the aim of keeping it future-proof and fit for purpose.

Finally, the Code aims to become recognised as a Code of Conduct under the Digital Services Act to help mitigate the risks stemming from disinformation for Very Large Online Platforms (defined in the DSA as platforms reaching more than 10% of 450 million consumers in Europe).