Revamped Code of Practice on online disinformation remains a threat to freedom of the press
Online Platforms and other players in the on-line ecosystem made renewed commitments on 16 June to adhere to a revised Code of Practice on Disinformation. Europe’s leading publishers remain very skeptical of this new version of the Code which fails to make measurable commitments. Publishers also criticized the untransparent way the code was drafted, and feeble enforcement procedures.
Angela Mills Wade, EPC’s Executive Director said “we are onboard with platforms doing all they can to get rid of and remove incentives for profiting from the distribution of disinformation that pollutes their sites. A shame their so-called Code of Practice fails to deliver much prospect of improved consumer protection”
Unfortunately, the new Code does not address the elephant in the room, the role of algorithms in the spread of fake news and disinformation online, which is the biggest problem. Furthermore, the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are in name only, without offering any substantial content or metrics.
“The platforms are the ones with the disinformation problem and it’s for the platforms to solve. Regrettably the improvements to make platform’s efforts to self-regulate more robust put forward by the original Sounding Board, of which the media were all part, fell on deaf ears” continued Angela.
Signatories’ accountability and enforcement on the Code in order to see significant change in the spread of disinformation online is minimal to non-existent.
There has been too much expectation from the Code that already failed to deliver, while on the other hand we faced opposition from Parliament and other stakeholders for the Digital Services Act (DSA) to provide effective safeguards for legal editorial content against removals based solely on platforms set terms and conditions, an unfortunate situation which means that the boundaries of press freedom are potentially not defined by law but by private companies.