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Major tech firms launch code against disinformation

Global tech firms in Australia launched a code of practice Monday to fight disinformation online that the government has criticized. Lobby group DIGI comprising Facebook, Google, Twitter, Microsoft, TikTok and Redbubble have committed to a range of actions that include labelling false content and to proritize credible sources of information.

“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 a statement.

”Participating companies also commit to releasing an annual transparency report about their efforts under the code, which will help improve understanding of online misinformation and disinformation in Australia over time. The first set of reports will be released by DIGI in May.”

Actions also include to suspend or disable offending and fake accounts, including “bots” that automatically disseminate information across their platforms.

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

Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) says more than two-thirds of Australians have expressed concern over online misinformation.

“False and misleading news and information online – like that spread through the 2020 bushfires and the Covid-19 pandemic – has the potential to cause serious harm to individuals, communities and society,” it said in a statement.

ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin welcomed the code as a “flexible and proportionate approach” to the risk of harm posed by misinformation.

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