Big Tech giants agreed to take a stronger approach to disinformation this morning as the EU pushes forward with a fresh code of practice.
The European Commission revealed that more than 30 signatories, including Meta, Google, Microsoft and Twitter, have signed up, agreeing to hefty fines of six per cent of global turnover for non-compliance.
The new code will make tech firms take a more rigorous approach to fake accounts and ‘deepfakes’, which are images and videos that have been altered using software.
The fresh code is also an update on the voluntary regulatory code on disinformation back in 2018, and comes along the fresh tide of Big Tech regulation by the EU.
The bloc passed the groundbreaking Digital Services Act (DSA) earlier this year, which regulates how Silicon Valley harvest data, and pushes back against misinformation and hate speech.
Commenting on the agreement, Linklaters Partner Guillaume Couneson told City A.M. that it was an “important development” for the DSA.
“The DSA sets out the “how”, meaning the processes and systems Big Tech must put in place to handle illegal or harmful content online. Whereas, the code details the “what”, meaning the type of content that raises issues and should be addressed”, he explained.
However, co-CEO of NewsGuard Steven Brill was less optimistic about the new code.
Despite the Commission’s recommendation that platforms provide their users with access to “indicators of trustworthiness, focused on the integrity of the source,” as stated in its initial guidance, Brill said he was disappointed to see that only Microsoft among the large platforms committed to this measure, with others refusing to provide information about the trustworthiness of sources.
Brill said this lack of empowerment of users to help them avoid mis- and disinformation, show that big firms’ participation “amounted to little more than making hollow promises for favourable publicity”.
The misinformation industry is booming, with $2.6bn in estimated ad revenue being sent to publishers of misinformation each year by top brands, according to NewsGuard and Comscore.