Reset Australia condemns Google, Facebook disinformation code


Tuesday, 08 December, 2020


Reset Australia condemns Google, Facebook disinformation code

Google and Facebook’s voluntary disinformation code doesn’t offer any real protections from dangerous and false information online, according to Reset Australia.

DIGI, an Australian lobby group comprising Google, Facebook, Twitter and others, released an industry-written voluntary code on disinformation, in response to a request from ACMA.

Reset Australia is calling for the government to mandate social media platforms to publish a ‘live list’ of the most viral content surrounding COVID-19 so that disinformation can be seen and tracked.

Chris Cooper, Executive Director of Reset Australia, said the DIGI code offers no transparency around how social media platforms profit from and perpetuate disinformation and that there is no independent oversight and there are no consequences for platforms that ignore the code.

“DIGI has watered down the failed EU Code of Practice on Disinformation and is trying pass it off as a tough stance to what they hope is a gullible Australian audience,” Cooper said.

Reset Australia found DIGI’s proposed code fails to offer any real crackdowns on disinformation, with no specifics about how it would oversee platforms’ efforts to crack down, and no proper attempt to allow strategic research to occur on disinformation. The proposed code also limits the scope of action to ‘imminent or serious threat’, which would target one-off misinformation but wouldn’t target long-term corrosive misinformation, such as anti-vax sentiment.

DIGI’s proposed code also lacks an independent third-party organisation to be the Administrator of the Code and has no capacity to give an independent regulator the capacity to gather evidence on how algorithms prioritise and distribute certain content.

“Australia can be a leader in addressing the harms of social media, but first we need to crack down on these global tech bullies. ACMA offered guidance on policy, and instead the platforms have just reheated an already failed approach, hoping we wouldn't notice that it hasn’t worked overseas,” Cooper said.

The EU’s disinformation code has been discredited by the European Commission itself, saying it hasn’t found any evidence of platforms implementing meaningful efforts to address misinformation. Cooper ads that self-regulation will not work, and that it is no longer acceptable to have a user-beware model when it comes to social media and digital platforms.

“Australian authorities and the Australian public should be able to answer questions like: What kind of content is being amplified by these platforms? Who made it? What kind of demographics are consuming it? To do that we need a live list of the most contentious issues our society is facing, so we can begin to tackle misinformation collectively and transparently,” Cooper said.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Pixavril

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