Fighting disinformation online

Commissioner Gabriel: It won't be enough to have the Code only on paper, it needs to be effectively implemented

Photo: EU Commissioner Gabriel (R) gave a press briefing on 16 October, together with Siada El Ramly (L) and Ravi Vatrapu (C), representatives of the working group and the sounding board, respectively, of the multi-stakeholder forum on disinformation online.

A set of specific moves for the upcoming European elections along with concrete steps to implement the Code of Practice to fight online disinformation, agreed three weeks ago, are contained in the individual roadmaps that representatives of online platforms and the advertising industry handed over to Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel on 16 October. In fact, this kicked off the implementation of the Code.

I have asked the industry to put forward tangible steps to fight disinformation in the Code and the commitments therein represent a first positive outcome of the Commission's approach to tackle online disinformation, Commissioner Gabriel stressed, adding that it won't be enough to have the Code only on paper, the latter needs to be effectively implemented and followed by actions. I will closely monitor the progress made and assess, by the end of the year, if sufficient headway has been made or whether further actions are required, especially in view of the upcoming European elections, she explained.

The detailed individual roadmaps outlined in the Code contain concrete actions that the platforms plan as to enhance their instruments against spreading disinformation on the web. These measures include more transparency on political advertising, and broadening cooperation with fact-checkers, and offer some training for political groups and election bodies.

As Commissioner Gabriel stressed, this is the first time that, on a voluntary basis, the industry has accepted to implement a set of self-regulated measures. This Code has very diverse signatories, social media, search engines, but also digital advertising networks. All of these stakeholders provide different services using different tools and they target different audiences, and in addition, all these stakeholders are committing to implement specific measures, she pointed out, noting that the Commission is working with fact-checkers and researchers, and this is a pillar of its strategy. She expressed hope that this will help to achieve fast and measurable reduction of disinformation online.

Asked by media on concrete allegations for meddling in the electoral process, the commissioner specified that “we are not here to name and shame”. “We are here to understand more deeply this very complex phenomenon and we want to identify key points - transparency, diversity of information, credibility, but also inclusiveness. That is why today, with this Code of Practice, we are making a step forward to have more specific commitments that will be implemented, starting today,” she underlined.


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