Statement on the Code of Practice against disinformation: Commission asks online platforms to provide more details on progress made

google 2019_

Google, New York, United States (Unsplash, 2019)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Today the European Commission published reports by Facebook, Google and Twitter covering the progress made in January 2019 on their commitments to fight disinformation. These three online platforms are signatories of the Code of Practice against disinformation and have been asked to report monthly on their actions ahead of the European Parliament elections in May 2019.

More specifically, the Commission asked to receive detailed information to monitor progress on the scrutiny of ad placement, transparency of political advertising, closure of fake accounts and marking systems for automated bots. Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová, Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King, and Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel said in a joint statement:

“The online platforms, which signed the Code of Practice, are rolling out their policies in Europe to support the integrity of elections. This includes better scrutiny of advertisement placements, transparency tools for political advertising, and measures to identify and block inauthentic behaviour on their services.

However, we need to see more progress on the commitments made by online platforms to fight disinformation. Platforms have not provided enough details showing that new policies and tools are being deployed in a timely manner and with sufficient resources across all EU Member States. The reports provide too little information on the actual results of the measures already taken.

Finally, the platforms have failed to identify specific benchmarks that would enable the tracking and measurement of progress in the EU. The quality of the information provided varies from one signatory of the Code to another depending on the commitment areas covered by each report. This clearly shows that there is room for improvement for all signatories.

The electoral campaigns ahead of the European elections will start in earnest in March. We encourage the platforms to accelerate their efforts, as we are concerned by the situation. We urge Facebook, Google and Twitter to do more across all Member States to help ensure the integrity of the European Parliament elections in May 2019.

We also encourage platforms to strengthen their cooperation with fact-checkers and academic researchers to detect disinformation campaigns and make fact-checked content more visible and widespread.”

Main outcomes of the signatories’ reports:

  • Facebook has not reported on results of the activities undertaken in January with respect to scrutiny of ad placements. It had earlier announced that a pan-EU archive for political and issue advertising will be available in March 2019. The report provides an update on cases of interference from third countries in EU Member States, but does not report on the number of fake accounts removed due to malicious activities targeting specifically the European Union.
  • Google provided data on actions taken during January to improve scrutiny of ad placements in the EU, divided per Member State. However, the metrics supplied are not specific enough and do not clarify the extent to which the actions were taken to address disinformation or for other reasons (e.g. misleading advertising). Google published a new policy for ‘election ads’ on 29 January, and will start publishing a Political Ads Transparency Report as soon as advertisers begin to run such ads. Google has not provided evidence of concrete implementation of its policies on integrity of services for the month of January.
  • Twitter did not provide any metrics on its commitments to improve the scrutiny of ad placements. On political ads transparency, contrary to what was announced in the implementation report in January, Twitter postponed the decision until the February report. On integrity of services, Twitter added five new account sets, comprising numerous accounts in third countries, to its Archive of Potential Foreign Operations, which are publicly available and searchable, but did not report on metrics to measure progress.

Next steps

Today’s reports cover measures taken by online companies in January 2019. The next monthly report, covering the activities done in February, will be published in March 2019. This will allow the Commission to verify that effective policies to ensure integrity of the electoral processes are in place before the European elections in May 2019.

By the end of 2019, the Commission will carry out a comprehensive assessment of the Code’s initial 12-month period. Should the results prove unsatisfactory, the Commission may propose further actions, including of a regulatory nature.

Background

The monitoring of the Code of Practice is part of the Action Plan against disinformation that the European Union adopted last December to build up capabilities and strengthen cooperation between Member States and EU institutions to proactively address the threats posed by disinformation.

The reporting signatories committed to the Code of Practice in October 2018 on a voluntary basis. In January 2019 the European Commission published the first reports submitted by signatories of the Code of Practice against disinformation. The Code aims at achieving the objectives set out by the Commission’s Communication presented in April 2018 by setting a wide range of commitments articulated around five areas:

  • Disrupt advertising revenue for accounts and websites misrepresenting information and provide advertisers with adequate safety tools and information about websites purveying disinformation.
  • Enable public disclosure of political advertising and make effort towards disclosing issue-based advertising.
  • Have a clear and publicly available policy on identity and online bots and take measures to close fake accounts.
  • Offer information and tools to help people make informed decisions, and facilitate access to diverse perspectives about topics of public interest, while giving prominence to reliable sources.
  • Provide privacy-compliant access to data to researchers to track and better understand the spread and impact of disinformation.

Between January and May 2019, the Commission is carrying out a targeted Monthly Intermediate Monitoring of the platform signatories’ actions to implement Code commitments that are the most relevant and urgent to ensure the integrity of elections. Namely: scrutiny of ad placements (Commitment 1); political and issue-based advertising (Commitments 2 to 4); and integrity of services (Commitments 5 & 6).

The Code of Practice also goes hand-in-hand with the Recommendation included in the election package announced by President Juncker in its 2018 State of the Union Address to ensure free, fair and secure European Parliament’s elections. The measures include greater transparency in online political advertisements and the possibility to impose sanctions for the illegal use of personal data to deliberately influence the outcome of the European elections. As a result, Member States have set up a national election cooperation network of relevant authorities – such as electoral, cybersecurity, data protection and law enforcement authorities – and appointed a contact point to participate in a European-level election cooperation network. The first meeting of this network took place on 21 January 2019 and a second one on 27 February 2019.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

6 ways to drive funding to transform the fashion industry

These European countries produce the most plastic waste per person

The vicious cycle of poverty and exclusion spreads fast engulfing more children

New Mozambique storm rips off roofs, brings lashing rain as aid response kicks in

We finally have a life-saving vaccine for Ebola

COVID-19: EU must step up efforts to tackle medicine shortages

5 myths about face masks under the microscope

These German businesses are hiring refugees to plug the skills gap

Getting people with disabilities into work requires data

Myanmar willing to repatriate ‘verified returnees’ from Bangladesh

Fighting Terrorism Online: EU Internet Forum committed to an EU-wide Crisis Protocol

Mass-graves found of at least 535 killed during ‘organized and planned’ inter-communal attacks in western DR Congo

Three-quarters of South Sudanese children have known nothing but war, says UNICEF

Germany is the world’s most innovative economy

EU prepares a banking union amidst financial ruins

Water scarcity is a growing problem across the Middle East. Is this how we solve it?

Τhe EU Refugee Crisis: a day in the life of a Refugee in Greece

Businesses are lacking moral leadership, according to employees

Ebola situation worsening in DR Congo, amidst growing ‘funding gap’ UN health agency warns

‘Eden bonds’: how rewilding could save the climate and your pension

What is true and not true about the new Coronavirus?

Refund for cancelled travel during the pandemic: Commission decides to refer SLOVAKIA to the Court of Justice

“China is the only BRICS country to have either met or possibly slightly surpassed my expectations”, BRICS inventor Jim O’ Neil from Switzerland; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

A fundamental transport transformation: Commission presents its plan for green, smart and affordable mobility

Commission welcomes entry into force of EU4Health programme

A Californian city gave people $500 a month – no strings attached. Here’s what happened

Unemployment and exclusion brings EU cities to boiling point

Europe is progressing most towards these UN Sustainability Goals: A report card for Europe

The EU’s outermost regions: strengthened partnership bears fruit

This is how smart technology is helping to combat overfishing

Council’s position on Visa Directive a step back for young people’s mobility

Judges urge Security Council to serve interests of all UN Member States

Questions directors need to ask in the age of stakeholder capitalism

How can emerging economies navigate the mobility transition?

UN food agency begins ‘last resort’ partial withdrawal of aid to opposition-held Yemeni capital

UN expert calls for international investigation into ‘evident murder’ of Jamal Khashoggi

Financial system risk is elevated and global standards are essential in managing cross-border infrastructure investment

Human rights breaches in Azerbaijan and Sudan

Actions not words: what was promised at the UN’s landmark climate summit?

These are the countries that eat the most meat

Draghi: A bridge from Brussels to Berlin

EU elections update: Can the EU voters vote unaffected from fake news and online disinformation?

How smarter machines can make us smarter humans

Coronavirus: new procedure to facilitate and speed up approval of adapted vaccines against COVID-19 variants

The Czech economy is thriving but boosting skills and productivity and transitioning to a low-carbon productive model is vital to sustainable and inclusive growth

At global health forum, UN officials call for strong, people-focused health systems

The West cannot ignore Russia; dazed Germany sitting on the fence

UN forum to bring ‘big space data’ benefits to disaster response in Africa

Q and A on the draft digital copyright directive

This is the human impact of COVID-19 – and how business can help

The UN went to one of the world’s richest countries to look at poverty – this is what it found

What can we do about the crisis in trust in public institutions?

Berlin Calling: DCX Expo on track to grow, in association with The European Sting

Policymakers can ensure the 4IR is fairer than the last three

104 countries have laws that prevent women from working in some jobs

MEPs call on EU countries to end precarious employment practices

Sweden has a plan to end all traffic accident deaths

4 solutions for reducing emissions from industrial clusters

From Prince to Picasso, the arts can be just the tonic, new UN health agency study shows

Indonesian tsunami death toll climbs over 400 as Government-led relief efforts are stepped up

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s