Global tech firms launch new code of practice in Australia | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 23, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:05 AM, February 23, 2021


Global tech firms launch new code of practice in Australia

Global tech firms in Australia unveiled a new code of practice yesterday to curb the spread of disinformation online, following pressure from the government.

The lobbying group DIGI -- representing Facebook, Google, Twitter, Microsoft, TikTok and Redbubble -- committed under the code to a range of actions including labelling false content on their platforms, demoting fake content and prioritising credible sources of information.

They also agreed to suspend or disable offending and fake accounts, including "bots" that automatically disseminate information across their platforms.

The measures -- which largely codify existing practices -- are said to target paid and political advertising as well as content shared by users.

"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," the group said in releasing the 29-page code.

The voluntary code was developed in response to an Australian government inquiry into the role of online platforms in the spread of misinformation and disinformation.

The problem became particularly acute during historic bushfires that swept the country in late 2019 and 2020 and during the coronavirus pandemic, when social media platforms were flooded with false information on the origins of the disease and efforts to curb its spread.

The government's Communication and Media Authority (ACMA), which will oversee the code's implementation, said yesterday that in 2020 more than two-thirds of Australians expressed concern over the extent of online misinformation.

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