Digital platforms sign up for new code to manage online misinformation

The Digital Industry Group (DIGI) has launched a new code of practice that commits a range of technology companies to reduce the risk of online misinformation causing harm to Australians.

DIGI is a non-profit industry association that advocates for the interests of the digital industry in Australia, with Google, Facebook, Twitter and Verizon Media as its founding members.

The Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation has been adopted so far by Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Redbubble, TikTok and Twitter. All signatories commit to safeguards to protect Australians against harm from online disinformation and misinformation, and adopting a range of scalable measures that reduce its spread and visibility.

For platforms that offer advertising, there’s a commitment to address disinformation in paid content. The code also contains commitments to address fake bots and accounts that spread disinformation, and other commitments to help Australians know more about the advertising.

Participating companies also commit to releasing an annual transparency report about their efforts under the code, which will help improve understanding of online misinformation and disinformation in Australia over time. The first set of reports will be released by DIGI in May and other signatories have until May 2021 to sign up to commitments under the code.

Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) chair Nerida O’Loughlin welcomed the code as a flexible and proportionate approach to dealing with mis- and disinformation online.

“The code anticipates platforms’ actions will be graduated and proportionate to the risk of harm. This will assist them to strike an appropriate balance between dealing with troublesome content and the right to freedom of speech and expression.”

The code also contains a range of non-mandatory objectives including disrupting advertising and monetisation incentives for disinformation and empowering consumers to make better informed choices.

“This new code of practice has seen a diverse set of digital companies collaborate with each other, Government, academia and civil society to propose solutions to the incredibly complex challenges of misinformation and disinformation online,” DIGI managing director Sunita Bose said.

“People misleading others, or people being misinformed, are not new problems — but the digital era means that false information can spread faster and wider than before,” DIGI Managing Director Sunita Bose said.

DIGI developed this code with assistance from the University of Technology Sydney’s Centre for Media Transition, and First Draft, a global organisation that specialises in helping societies overcome false and misleading information.

“The Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation recognises the need to work transparently in conjunction with all stakeholders, as there is much work to be done together in order to help communities thrive online,” Anne Kruger, Asia Pacific director of First Draft said.

The Code was developed in response to the Australian Government policy announced in December 2019, where the digital industry was asked to develop a voluntary code of practice on disinformation, drawing learnings from a similar code in the European Union.

Unlike the EU code, the Australian code has an expanded focus on harmful misinformation, as well foundational commitments that all signatories must adopt. Like the EU code, it offers additional opt-in commitments that companies can choose if they’re relevant to their business.

DIGI undertook an extensive consultation process to inform the final code of practice, seeking  submissions from the public and input from academic and civil society experts. A summary of the feedback received from submissions and how it has been addressed has also been published today, along with all submissions, and the full code of practice.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.