The Australian government has not ruled out taking tougher action against social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter if a new industry-developed code fails to limit the spread of misinformation and disinformation on their platforms.
The new code of practice, developed by industry organization Digi and released yesterday, has been adopted by Twitter, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Redbubble and TikTok.
Under the new code, signatories are required to develop processes for identifying, reviewing and removing misinformation and disinformation on their platforms.
Misinformation is defined as false information regardless of the intent of the person sharing it, while disinformation is spread with the deliberate intent to deceive, often by state actors.
The code requires participants to remove misinformation and disinformation, suspend accounts, label misleading content, demonetize misinformation, have a process for reviewing decisions made around misinformation and disinformation, and to deprioritize content in algorithms over news sources with an editorial code.
How the code would work in practice remains to be seen.
Companies that have signed up to it are required to publish annual reports on how they are meeting the objectives of the code, with the first reports on its effectiveness due in May.
Reset Australia, an organization lobbying for regulation of the technology companies, called the code “shameless and pointless,” and called for an independent public regulator to be set up instead.
“This limp, toothless, opt-in code of practice is both pointless and shameless,” Reset Australia executive director Chris Cooper said. “The laughable thing about this code is that even if platforms choose to opt in, they can choose which provisions they have to follow, and then if it starts hurting their bottom line, all they have to do is pull out.”
The code was developed by Digi in response to the Australian competition watchdog’s inquiry into digital platforms in 2019.
Australian Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts Paul Fletcher said that the government would see how the code worked in practice, and did not rule out further action.
The government “will be watching carefully to see whether this voluntary code is effective in providing safeguards against the serious harms that arise from the spread of disinformation and misinformation on digital platforms,” Fletcher said.
Some say that the third time’s a charm. Not so for SpaceX, whose unmanned rocket on Wednesday exploded on the ground after carrying out what had seemed to be a successful flight and landing — fresh on the heels of two fiery crashes. It was yet another flub involving a prototype of the Starship rocket, which SpaceX hopes one day to send to Mars. “A beautiful soft landing,” a SpaceX commentator said on a live broadcast of the test flight, although flames were coming out at the bottom and crews were trying to put them out. The rocket exploded a few minutes later,
LEGAL ORDEAL: The heavy caseload involving 47 defendants and the vagaries of a Beijing-imposed security law made it difficult for the court to rule on bail requests Dozens of Hong Kong democracy advocates charged with subversion yesterday returned to court to complete a marathon bail hearing that was adjourned overnight when four defendants were rushed to hospital after hours of legal wrangling. Police on Sunday arrested 47 of the territory’s best-known dissidents for “conspiracy to commit subversion” in the broadest use yet of a sweeping National Security Law that Beijing imposed on the territory last year. The defendants represent a broad cross-section of Hong Kong’s opposition, from veteran former pro-democracy lawmakers to academics, lawyers, social workers and youth advocates. Hundreds of supporters gathered outside a courthouse on Monday for the
China, under growing global pressure over its treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang, is mounting an unprecedented and aggressive campaign to push back, including explicit attacks on women who have made claims of abuse. As allegations of human rights violations in Xinjiang mount, with a growing number of Western lawmakers accusing China of genocide, Beijing is focusing on discrediting the female Uighur witnesses behind reports of abuse. Chinese officials have named women, disclosed medical data and information on their fertility, and accused some of having affairs and one of having a sexually transmitted disease. Officials said that the information was evidence of bad character,
The plane laden with vaccines had just rolled to a stop at Santiago’s airport in late January and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera was beaming. “Today is a day of joy, emotion and hope,” he said. The source of that hope: China — a country that Chile and dozens of other nations are depending on to help rescue them from the COVID-19 pandemic. China’s vaccine diplomacy campaign has been a surprising success: It has pledged about 500 million doses of its vaccine to more than 45 countries, according to a country-by-country tally by The Associated Press (AP). With just four of China’s many