34 tech companies and advertising bodies sign up to an updated EU code of practice against online disinformation.

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A total of 34 tech companies and advertising bodies have signed up to an updated EU code of practice against online disinformation. Signatories including Facebook-owner Meta, Google, Twitter, Twitch, TikTok and Microsoft have agreed to take further steps to halt the spread of fake news and propaganda on their platforms, while sharing more country-specific data and agreeing to pay fines as high as 6 percent of their global turnover for non-compliance.

Signatories will have 6 months to implement the commitments and measures they have signed up to and will be required to submit a progress report at the start of 2023. “The new code is a testimony that Europe has learned its lessons and that we are not naive any longer,” commented EC Vice President Vera Jourova at a press conference to mark the launch of the updated rulebook, according to Reuters.

She added that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Covid-19 pandemic and Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union accelerated the EU’s commitment to counter disinformation. Unlike the previous guidelines, 2018’s Code of Practice on Disinformation, the EU said the revised code will not be voluntary but will be enforced by its new Digital Services Act (DSA).

The code includes a total of 44 pledges covering problem areas such as deep fakes, fake accounts and political advertising, as well as commitments to give users tools to flag disinformation and access “authoritative sources”, give researchers “better and wider access to platforms’ data” and work closely with independent fact-checkers.

However, entities including the Association of Commercial Television and Video on Demand Services in Europe (ACT) expressed concerns about the updated code, saying the commitments “go no further than a blanket statement to follow the law which is obvious and does not require a Code.” Website The Verge also pointed out that the list of signatories including notable absences such as Apple and Telegram.

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