What you need to know
- The European Commission has tightened rules governing how tech giants deal with deep fakes, bots, impersonation, and fake accounts.
- Under the new rules, Big Tech could face massive fines if they fail to combat disinformation.
- Google, Meta, Twitter, Twitch, TikTok, and Clubhouse are among the 38 companies that have signed on to the code.
The European Commission’s original disinformation code, introduced in 2018, missed a few key points in addressing manipulative behaviors used to spread false information, including deep fakes and bots. As a result, EU regulators have recently enacted tougher rules around how technology companies deal with disinformation.
The EU’s strengthened Code of Practice on Disinformation (opens in new tab) supplants its previous guidelines, with a focus ons to transparency in political advertising, commitment to eliminate ways for disinformation purveyors to profit from ads, empowering researchers, and supporting the fact-checking community, among other commitments.
Among the tech giants that have signed up to the Commission’s revised and stronger rules are Google, Meta, Twitter, Amazon’s Twitch, Microsoft, and TikTok. Smaller digital platforms, such as Vimeo and Clubhouse, have also pitched in. Overall, there are 34 signatories to the updated guidelines, backed by a community of fact-checkers and researchers.
“The 2022 Code of Practice is the result of the work carried out by the signatories,” the Commission said. “It is for the signatories to decide which commitments they sign up to and it is their responsibility to ensure the effectiveness of their commitments’ implementation.”
These signatories will be held accountable if they fail to live up to their commitments, with a potential fine of up to 6% of their global revenue. While the revamped code of practice is now in effect, participating companies have six months to demonstrate compliance with the strengthened rules. It is up to them, however, to choose which of the 44 commitments and 128 measures to follow.
The tougher guidelines come at a time when EU leaders are concerned about the spread of online disformation related to Russia’s propaganda as it continues to invade Ukraine.
Commission Vice President Vera Jourova said in a press conference in Brussels that Russia is using disinformation as a weapon in its aggression against Ukraine, per ABC News (opens in new tab).
As part of the revised code, the Commission will create a task force in collaboration with company representatives and other EU agencies. A transparency center will also be formed to provide public access to reports. Signatories will be required to submit reports to the task force every six months to assess their compliance with the code.
The goal is for the participating companies to implement the updated rules by 2023. The Commission alsos to incorporate the code into other anti-disinformation intends efforts, such as the Digital Act and the Transparency and Targeting of Political Advertising.