The Covid-19 Monitoring Programme has provided useful insights about the actions taken by online platforms to limit the spread of coronavirus and vaccine-related disinformation in the EU. The learnings drawn from this programme are also feeding into the design of a more robust reporting framework of the strengthened Code of Practice on Disinformation, which is expected to be signed by the signatories in mid-June. The monitoring of the platform’s measures to limit disinformation – including related to COVID-19 – will continue under that framework.
Fighting COVID-19 disinformation
Platforms report on their measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 disinformation in March and April 2022, and present data on the outcome of their actions, for example:
- In March and April, Twitter has suspended 527 accounts in violation of its Covid-19 Misleading Information Policy, which were 962 less than in the previous reporting period. At the same time, they removed 6.712 pieces of COVID-related content, which were 1.487 more than in the previous reporting period. They halted and removed from promotion 61 (-10) Tweets violating their policies, most of them targeting several EU countries.
- TikTok reported that the trend already seen in February is still visible in the March-April data, namely a decrease across the metrics in conjunction with the lifting of restrictions in many countries in the EU. Compared to the previous reporting period, 1.026 videos with a COVID-19 tag (-2.239) and 2.203 (-10.131) medical misinformation videos were removed for violations. Moreover, in March and April 265.445 users visited the page, meaning 428.798 less than the previous reporting period.
- On 4 May, Google published the 2021 Ads Safety Report, the annual report on the efforts to prevent malicious use of Google’s ads platforms, which includes global take down numbers for COVID-19 related ads. Regarding March and April, they report that 33.882.679 (+267.048) coronavirus-related ads have been blocked. As the most targeted countries in the EU, 80.188 more were directed to Latvia, 19.712 more in Italy, and 2.704 more in Hungary compared to January and February.
- Meta reports that the Covid-19 Information Centre on Facebook had 3.1 visitors in March and over 2 million in April, which means a fall of nearly 21,8 million visitors compared to January and February. Moreover, in the EU, 78.000 (-124.000) COVID-related pieces of content from Facebook and 9.800 (-14.000) on Instagram have been removed for violations of their misinformation policies.
- Microsoft reports a significant decrease in the number of visitors of the Bing COVID-19 experience, namely 1.795.676 visits, which means 1.220.020 less in March and April compared to the previous reporting period. Microsoft Advertising continue to enforce policies, preventing a total of 9.022.800 (+8.200.933) advertisers' submissions directed to European markets, including vaccine-related content. Upon escalation, they removed a total of 25.240 (-45.386) advertisers’ submissions.