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17 June 2022

NME: Big Tech’s Self-Imposed Rules On Fighting Fake News Treat Symptoms, Not Causes

European news publishers fear that the platforms' proposals to tackle online fake news, the revised code of practice on tackling disinformation, focusses on the symptoms, rather than its underlying cause. The code presented in Brussels, still does not adequately address the role of algorithms in the spread of fake news online, News Media Europe said.

Online platforms should be looking at what they themselves can do against spreading disinformation online, by critically assessing their algorithms and altering them where necessary. Arbitrary content regulation, now included in the revision of the code, is not only harmful for press freedom, but it also shifts the responsibility for the problem away from the tech platforms, NME added.

Wout van Wijk, NME executive director, said: “This undermines the reality of the editorial responsibility and legal liability that for instance publishers already have, whereas platforms do not. This is why we need the code of practice in the first place – to ensure that platforms set up effective processes to deal with disinformation, as the online platforms are not subject to editorial responsibility”.

More generally, while NME acknowledges the tremendous efforts from the signatories on this code of practice, news publishers feel that the measures included in the code do not do justice to the societal problem that is disinformation. The code falls short in holding the signatories accountable and on performance to drive significant change in the spread of disinformation online.