Insights News Media Europe says that big tech’s self-imposed rules on fighting fake news treat symptoms, not causes


European news publishers fear that platforms’ proposals to tackle online fake news (as set out in the revised Code of Practice on tackling disinformation) focus on the symptoms, rather than the underlying causes. News Media Europe says that the Code presented to the Commission on 16 June 2022 (see here) still does not adequately address the role of algorithms in the spread of fake news online.

According to News Media Europe, 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.

Wout van Wijk, Executive Director at News Media Europe, explains: “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 News Media Europe acknowledges the efforts made by the signatories to the Code, it says that the measures 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. To read News Media Europe’s press release in full, click here.