In October 2018, representatives of online platforms, leading tech companies and players in the advertising industry agreed on a self-regulatory Code of Practice to address the spread of online disinformation.
With the 2018 Code of Practice on Disinformation, the industry agreed for the first time worldwide and on a voluntary basis, to self-regulatory standards to fight disinformation. The 2018 Code of Practice aimed at achieving the objectives set out by the Commission's Communication presented in April 2018 by setting 21 commitments in different domains, from transparency in political advertising to demonetization of purveyors of disinformation.
The Code of Practice was signed in October 2018 by the online platforms Facebook, Google, Twitter and Mozilla, as well as by advertisers and other players in the advertising industry. Microsoft joined in May 2019, while TikTok signed the Code in June 2020.
Monitoring the 2018 Code's Impact
Online platforms and trade associations representing the advertising sector submitted a baseline report in January 2019 setting out the state of play of the measures taken to comply with their commitments under the Code of Practice on Disinformation.
Between January and May 2019, the European Commission carried out targeted monitoring of the implementation of the commitments by Facebook, Google and Twitter, with particular pertinence to the integrity of the European Parliament elections.
A self-assessment report of the signatories was published in October 2019 after one year of implementation of the Code. The self-assessments indicated comprehensive efforts by signatories to implement their commitments over the course of 12 months.
The Commission published its assessment of the Code in September 2020. The assessment showed that the Code provided a valuable framework for a structured dialogue between online platforms and ensured greater transparency and accountability of their policies on disinformation. It also resulted in concrete actions and policy changes by relevant stakeholders to help counter disinformation.
The Code framework proved to be very useful also to monitor, and ensure accountability of signatories' actions to limit the impact of disinformation related to COVID-19. However, the assessment also showed a set of important gaps and shortcomings. In view of that, the Commission issued a Guidance in May 2021 on strengthening the Code, indicating how the shortcomings should be addressed by the signatories.
Towards a stronger code for 2022
The Assembly grouping the signatories of the Code and new signatories that were willing to subscribe to and take on commitments under the new Code, met on 8 July 2021 to start the process. The Assembly approved a Vademecum that shaped the organisation and the functioning of the process towards strengthening the Code. It also launched a Joint Call for interest aimed at a wide range of stakeholders, inviting interested parties to manifest their interest to become signatories and get involved the preparation of the strengthened Code.
The signatories delivered a Strengthened Code of Practice on 16 June 2022.
Other language versions of the 2018 Code of Practice on Disinformation