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POLICY | 16 March 2021

Code of Practice on Disinformation

Online platforms, leading social networks, advertisers and advertising industry agreed on a Code of Practice to address the spread of disinformation.

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The Code of Practice is the first time worldwide that industry has agreed, on a voluntary basis, to self-regulatory standards to fight disinformation. It aims at achieving the objectives set out by the Commission's Communication presented in April 2018 by setting a wide range of commitments, from transparency in political advertising to the closure of fake accounts and demonetization of purveyors of disinformation.

The Code includes an annex identifying best practices that signatories will apply to implement the Code's commitments. The Commission has also published the opinion of the Sounding board of the Multi-stakeholder forum on the Code of Practice.

The Code of Practice was signed by the online platforms Facebook, Google and Twitter, Mozilla, as well as by advertisers and parts of the advertising industry in October 2018. Signatories then presented their roadmaps to implement the Code. Microsoft joined in May 2019, while TikTok signed the Code in June 2020. 

Monitoring Disinformation

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 a targeted monitoring of the implementation of the commitments by Facebook, Google and Twitter with particular pertinence to the integrity of the European Parliament elections. In particular, the Commission asked the three platforms signatory to the Code of Practice to report on a monthly basis on their actions undertaken to improve the scrutiny of ad placements, ensure transparency of political and issue-based advertising and to tackle fake accounts and malicious use of bots.

The Commission published the reports received for the five months together with its own assessment (for more details, see the intermediate reports for JanuaryFebruaryMarchApril, and May 2019). An annual self-assessment report of the signatories to the Code of Practice on Disinformation was published in October 2019. The self-assessment reports indicate comprehensive efforts by the signatories to implement their commitments over the course of 12 months, which represents progress over the situation prevailing before the Code’s entry into force. Further serious steps by individual signatories and the community as a whole are still necessary. The Commission will publish an assessment of the first year of the Code in 2020.

COVID-19 Monitoring Programme

Signatories of the Code of Practice provided five sets of reports on their action to counter disinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic. These reports acted a transparency measure, ensuring accountability of signatories in tackling disinformation. Overall, the reports show that the signatories to the Code have stepped up their efforts against disinformation, compared to the actions taken during the first year of implementation of the Code’s commitments.

Useful Links

Other language versions of the Code of Practice on Disinformation

Bulgarian - Croatian - Czech - Danish - Dutch - Estonian - Finnish - French - German 

Greek - Hungarian - Italian - Lithuanian - Latvian - Maltese - Polish - Portuguese 

Romanian - Slovak - Slovenian - Spanish - Swedish

Latest

Coronavirus: new reports by online platforms include specific measures taken against vaccines disinformation

The European Commission has just published the fourth set of reports from the signatories of the Code of Practice on Disinformation on actions they have taken to fight false and misleading coronavirus-related information. In their latest reports, the online platforms have responded to the Commission's call to provide information specifically about the measures taken to limit the spread of disinformation on coronavirus vaccines.

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European Digital Media Observatory

The European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO) is a project that aims to support the independent community working to combat disinformation.