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First baseline reports – Fighting COVID-19 disinformation Monitoring Programme

The Commission has published the first set of reports provided by the online platform signatories of the Code of Practice as part of the COVID-19 monitoring and reporting programme set out in the Communication “Tackling COVID-19 disinformation - Getting the facts right”.

The monitoring and reporting programme set out in the Joint Communication “Tackling COVID-19 disinformation - Getting the facts right” is a transparency measure to ensure accountability towards the public of the efforts made by platforms and relevant industry associations to limit online disinformation related to Covid-19.

In particular, the monitoring and reporting programme is articulated in two phases:

  1. A first phase, where the reporting provides baseline information on relevant policies and procedures that platforms have put in place until 31 July 2020 – since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe.
  2. A second phase, from August 2020 to December 2020, where platforms and industry associations will make use of specific indicators to enable a monthly overview of the effectiveness and the impact of their policies in curbing COVID-19 related disinformation.

In particular, the signatories to the Code of Practice on Disinformation have been asked to provide information relating to the following areas:

  • Initiatives to promote authoritative content at EU and at Member State level,
  • Initiatives and tools to improve users’ awareness,
  • Information on manipulative behaviour on their services, and
  • Data on flows of advertising linked to COVID-19 disinformation on their services and on third-party websites.

The reports

Today, we publish baseline reports from Facebook, Google, Microsoft, TikTok, Twitter and Mozilla, which summarise the actions taken by these actors to limit the spread of false and misleading information on their services, covering a period from the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis until 31 July 2020. These reports provide an extensive overview of the relevant actions. Overall, they show that the signatories to the Code have stepped up their efforts, compared to the actions taken during the first year of implementation of the Code’s commitments.

In particular, signatories - depending on the nature of their services - have increased the visibility of authoritative sources by giving prominence to COVID-19 information from the WHO and national health organisations, and by deploying new tools and services to facilitate access to relevant and reliable information relating to the evolution of the crisis. Some of those products or services, however, were not deployed in all EU countries.

The reports also highlight how the platforms have taken action against a vast amount of content containing false or misleading information, in particular by demoting or removing content liable to cause physical harm or impair public health policies, in violation of their terms of service.

Platforms have stepped up their efforts to detect cases of social media manipulation and malign influence operations or coordinated inauthentic behaviour. While platforms detected a high number of content including false information related to COVID-19, they did not detect coordinated disinformation operations with specific focus on COVID-19 run on their services.

Moreover, the reports highlight robust actions taken to limit the flow of advertising on third-party webpages purveying COVID-19 disinformation, while providing free COVID-related ads space to government and healthcare organisations.

The reports contain quantitative data illustrating the impact of these policies. For example, 

  • Google Search has given prominence to articles published by EU fact-checking organisations, which generated more than 155m impressions over the first half of 2020. Youtube, since the beginning of the year, has displayed information panels linking to global and locally relevant health officials on its homepage, and in panels that appear on videos and searches about COVID-19. Overall, these panels have served over 300 billion impressions around the world.
  • Microsoft’s LinkedIn sends interested members a "European Daily Rundown," which is a summary of the day's news written and curated by experienced journalists. The "European Daily Rundown" is distributed to members in all 27 EU Member States and has a reach of approximately 9.7 million users in the EU.
  • Facebook and Instagram COVID-19 “Information Center” directed over 2 billion people globally to resources from the WHO and other health authorities, with over 600 million people clicking through to learn more. In April, in the EU more than 49 million people visited the COVID-19 Information Center.
  • Over 160 million people have visited the Twitter’s COVID-19 curated pages, over 2 billion times. Such pages bring together the latest Tweets from a number of authoritative and trustworthy government, media and civil society sources in local languages.
  • Tiktok informational page on COVID-19 has been visited over 52m times across their five major European markets (UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain).

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mozilla has effectively made use of the browser space (Firefox snippets), and features (Pocket), to promote important public health information from the WHO, leading to more than 35.000.000 impressions and 25.000 clicks in Germany and France alone on the snippets, while the curated coronavirus hub in Pocket generated more than 800.000 pageviews from more than 500.000 users around the globe by mid July. Also, Mozilla has provided expertise and opened up datasets on Firefox usage in February and March to help researchers investigating social distancing measures. 

Downloads

Google COVID-19 report - August 2020
Download 
Mozilla COVID-19 report - August 2020
Download 
TikTok COVID-19 report - August 2020
Download 
Twitter COVID-19 report - August 2020
Download 
Facebook COVID-19 report - August 2020.pdf
Download 
Microsoft COVID-19 report - August 2020.pdf
Download 

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