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Big Tech commits to combating disinformation in the new Code of Practice

The European Commission published the strengthened Code of Practice on Disinformation, which accounts for key takeaways from the war in Ukraine and the COVID19 crisis.

The 34 signatories include major tech players, such as Meta, Google, and Microsoft, as well as smaller niche companies and platforms.

The new Code builds upon the weaknesses of the previous one introduced in 2018, now having 44 commitments instead of 21 and 128 measures. Following the updated guidelines, it aims to cut financial incentives for spreading disinformation, cover new manipulative behaviors, and ensure transparent political advertising, among other goals.

“This new anti-disinformation Code comes at a time when Russia is weaponising disinformation as part of its military aggression against Ukraine, but also when we see attacks on democracy more broadly,” Věra Jourová, Vice-President for Values and Transparency, said.

All signatories must comply with the requirements within the six-month period and report back to the Commission in 2023.

“Disinformation is a form of invasion of our digital space, with tangible impact on our daily lives. Online platforms need to act much strongly, especially on the issue of funding. Spreading disinformation should not bring a single euro to anyone,” Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market, said.

According to the EU Commission's statement, the 2018’s Code has proven to be effective in tackling disinformation and managed to respond quickly to global crises. However, it fell short in ensuring appropriate accountability on the respected platforms. The signatories of the original Code have since been involved in re-drafting it to implement improved rules.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the Kremlin has been accused of utilizing troll factories to spread disinformation online. The recruitees then go on social media to participate in the “pro-Kremlin campaign,” spamming the Russian government’s critics and foreign leaders with comments of propagandistic nature.

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