In a groundbreaking (and much needed) move, the lobbying group of tech giants DIGI (which includes Microsoft, TikTok, Facebook, Google, Redbubble and Twitter) have released the final version of a long-pending and awaited industry code to address misinformation on their respective platforms in Australia. Under the code, the global tech companies have committed to a set of actions which includes demoting fake accounts, curbs the spread of online disinformation and prioritizes credible sources of information.
The tech companies that have agreed on the disinformation code will also be suspending or disabling accounts on their platforms that it finds offensive or fake. This also includes bots that disseminate false information automatically across social media and other platforms. Moreover, the measures which mostly codify existing practices, have been set to target paid and political advertising, content shared by users and subsequent disinformation on the internet that follows
More on the anti-disinformation code
Releasing a 29-page code, the group said that all signatories have committed to safeguarding and protecting Australians against potential harm from online disinformation as well as misinformation, also adopting a range of various scalable measures that reduce its visibility and spread.
The voluntary code has been developed follows an Australian government inquiry into the role of tech platforms like Facebook and Google in the spread of fake news and disinformation online.
Australia Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) is the regulator that’ll be overseeing the implementation of the code. ACMA said that in the year 2020, over two-thirds of Australians expressed their concern over the extent of online disinformation. Nerida O’Loughlin, ACMA Chairperson, has welcomed the anti-disinformation code and called it a “flexible and proportionate approach” to the risk of harm which is posed by disinformation.
Signatories of the anti-disinformation code have agreed to report to the government on initial compliance by the end of June 2021 and will issue annual reports after that. Paul Fletcher, Communications Minister, warned the tech companies that the government would be watching carefully to make sure that they’re following through on the measures and complying with the code.