Coronavirus: new reports by online platforms include specific measures taken against vaccines disinformation

Today, the European Commission publishes the fourth set of reports from the signatories of the Code of Practice on Disinformation on actions they have taken to fight false and misleading coronavirus-related information. In their latest reports, the online platforms have responded to the Commission’s call to provide information specifically about the measures taken to limit the spread of disinformation on coronavirus vaccines. Overall, the reports continue to give a good overview of actions taken by the online platforms, and demonstrate important steps taken as well as willingness to provide increased transparency around their policies. Věra Jourová, Vice-President for Values and Transparency, said: “We all have a responsibility to respond to the COVID pandemic and counter disinformation that can impact our health. These reports increase transparency of the online platforms and are a step in the good direction. Going further, our European Democracy Action Plan sets the path to a reinforced Code of practice against disinformation and a permanent framework for its monitoring.” Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market, added: “Continued cooperation with online platforms is crucial for public health. Everyone needs to do their part to stop the disinformation virus from impacting our society. Safe and efficient vaccines are within reach, it is key that these scientific efforts are not undermined by disinformation campaigns targeting citizens, feeding fear and seeding distrust.” They show that platforms kept increasing the visibility of authoritative information sources on vaccines, demoting and removing content violating their updated terms of services such as claim that the vaccine will kill people and stepped up efforts to block or remove advertising discouraging people from getting vaccines. This monthly reporting programme is a deliverable under the 10 June 2020 Joint Communication to ensure accountability towards the public of the efforts made by platforms and relevant industry associations to limit online disinformation related to the coronavirus. Today’s reports focus on actions taken in October 2020 by the Code’s platform signatories, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and TikTok. The Digital Services Act, set to be presented next week, will provide overarching transparency obligations for platforms.