Exclusive – EU wants firm pledges from tech giants in fake news fight


BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Facebook, Alphabet unit Google and other tech giants will have to pledge to do more to curb the monetisation of false information through advertisement placements, according to a European Commission document seen by Reuters.

The EU executive also wants smaller social media or search services, private messaging services, ad exchanges, ad-tech providers, communication agencies and e-payment services, e-commerce platforms and crowdfunding/donation systems to commit to do the same, the document said.

The proposal is one of several which aims to address shortcomings in the voluntary code of practice on disinformation introduced in 2018 and to which Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Mozilla and TikTok have signed up.

“One area, in particular, where the Code has failed to achieve sufficient progress is in the demonetisation of disinformation, where online advertisements still continue to incentivise the dissemination of disinformation,” the document said.

The Commission wants platforms to tighten eligibility requirements and content review processes for content monetisation and ad revenue share programmes on their services to bar participation by actors that systematically post content debunked as disinformation.

Ad-tech companies in turn should identify the criteria used to place ads and adopt measures to verify where the ads are placed.

The document also wants the companies to clearly and effectively label political and issue based ads, distinguishing them as paid-for content.

The updated code of conduct also sets out key performance indicators for the first time to allow authorities to verify that the companies are living up to their pledges.

Companies will be given until the end of September to come up with a draft of their commitments. The Commission will present the updated code on May 26.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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