24 November 2021 09:45
The European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA) has released a new report with recommendations for changes they would like to see implemented in the new EU Code of Practice on Disinformation. The most recent recommendations come after the European Commission established its third monitoring programme which asked signatories to provide monthly transparency reports outlining their efforts to tackle Covid-19 related disinformation. The ERGA recommendations include calls for country-specific data, standardised reporting, clearer definitions of content policies, greater access to data and strengthening of monitoring commitments. You can view the full report here.
At the request of the European Commission, ERGA members from 9 countries, including Ireland, contributed to the monitoring process. The Irish regulator, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), commissioned the DCU FuJo Institute to provide a detailed monitoring review of the transparency reports. The findings of the review were published in CovidCheck 2021, co-authored by Provenance researchers Eileen Culloty, Kirsty Park and Jane Suiter. CovidCheck followed on from ElectCheck 2019 and Codecheck 2020, the two previous FuJo monitoring reports commissioned by the BAI. FuJo will also contribute towards future monitoring efforts as part of its role in coordinating Ireland’s EDMO (European Digital Media Observatory) hub.
CovidCheck found that the reports submitted by platforms were highly repetitive, often irrelevant, and generally failed to provide the data that was requested. It argued that more robust procedures for reporting and monitoring online disinformation need to be developed. FuJo presented the key findings in CovidCheck to the ERGA monitoring group who voted to endorse the report and its recommendations. FuJo also participated in a stakeholder workshop which included signatories, the EU Commission, other EDMO representatives, ERGA, researchers, academics and factcheckers.
On the 15th of November, ERGA held an event to discuss the report, which included a panel moderated by Ľuboš Kukliš, Chair of the ERGA Subgroup on Disinformation, featuring Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, (Reuters Institute), Rebekah Tromble, (EDMO) Daniel Braun, (European Commission) and Krisztina Stump (European Commission). The post-panel discussion, which Provenance researchers contributed to, highlighted that key issues surrounding the implementation of the revised Code need to be finalised. Two key concerns involved the availability of suitable data for independent research and monitoring work as well as finding appropriate funding for EDMO hubs and ERGA members to provide high-quality monitoring as part of their roles in a new taskforce chaired by the Commission.
The Code is currently under revision following the European Democracy Action Plan and and the European Commission’s Guidance on Strengthening the Code, which specifically called for a more robust monitoring framework. Eight new prospective signatories joined the revision process, including organisations fighting disinformation such as Avaaz, Globsec, Logically, NewsGuard, and WhoTargetsMe.
Ľuboš Kukliš, who leads ERGA’s work on disinformation states that “ERGA has gathered a lot of experience and expertise during the monitoring of the implementation of the Code of Practice. We, therefore, believe our recommendations can help the signatories in the drafting process to make the Code of Practice an effective tool to address this complex phenomenon”. The ERGA report has been presented to the Assembly tasked with revising the Code and it is hoped that the new Code will be a more effective tool in fighting disinformation.
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