Facebook, Alphabet unit Google and other tech giants will have to commit to curb the monetisation of disinformation through advertisement placements under the European Commission’s beefed up code of practice against fake news.
Concerns about the impact of disinformation have intensified amid the COVID-19 pandemic and claims about election fraud in the United States, with some critics pointing to the role of social media and tech giants in the spread of fake news.
The EU executive said the strengthened non-binding guidelines set out a robust monitoring framework and clear performance indicators for companies to comply with, confirming a Reuters exclusive on May 19.
“Disinformation cannot remain a source of revenue. We need to see stronger commitments by online platforms, the entire advertising ecosystem and networks of fact-checkers,” EU industry chief Thierry Breton said in a statement.
Vera Jourova, Commission Vice President for Values and Transparency, said the issue was urgent because of the fast evolving threats posed by disinformation online.
“A new stronger Code is necessary as we need online platforms and other players to address the systemic risks of their services and algorithmic amplification, stop policing themselves alone and stop allowing to make money on disinformation, while fully preserving the freedom of speech,” she said.
Signatories to the code, which was introduced in 2018, include Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Mozilla, TikTok and some advertising and tech lobbying groups.
The Commission said it wants ad exchanges, ad-tech providers, brands benefitting from ads and private messaging services to sign up to the code.