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DIGI statement on the release of the first set of transparency reports under the new Disinformation Code

Today eight major technology companies have released new insights and data into their management of mis- and disinformation in Australia, fulfilling their reporting commitments under the new Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation.

The code was launched exactly three months ago, and commits every signatory to provide the Digital Industry Group Inc. (DIGI) with a transparency report within three months of their adoption of it.

On the release of the reports, DIGI Managing Director Sunita Bose said:

“The reports outline the extensive work being undertaken across the industry to remove harmful content, flag false claims, address fake accounts, elevate reputable content, improve Australians’ media literacy and partner with researchers to better understand these complex challenges.

“Perpetrators of disinformation use manipulation and subversion to undermine democratic processes, public health and security. As their tech and tactics constantly evolve, so too must the strategies to stop them.

“The reports show that the approaches to address disinformation and misinformation are multi-faceted and evolving in response to changes in the online environment, and that these efforts have had to rise to new challenges arising from the pandemic.

“As mainstream consumer platforms get better at addressing mis- and disinformation, it will become more concentrated on other digital services. While major technology companies have critically important levers to pull, sustained shifts in the fight against mis- and disinformation rely on a widespread and multi-stakeholder approach.”

All transparency reports are available at digi.org.au/disinformation. The code’s signatories include Adobe, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Redbubble, TikTok and Twitter.

Background:

Every company that signs the code commits to safeguards against harmful misinformation and disinformation, including policies and a way to report activity that violates them, and annual transparency reports.

The code includes a subset of commitments that are applicable to different digital companies. 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 source of content they see online, in both news and factual content, and political advertising. The code encourages the digital industry to work with universities and researchers to develop a better understanding of these complex issues.

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. 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.

DIGI is a non-profit industry association that advocates for the interests of the digital industry in Australia. DIGI’s vision is a thriving Australian digitally-enabled economy that fosters innovation, a growing selection of digital products and services, and where online safety and privacy are protected.