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European Union officials revealed plans aimed at expanding the code of practice for online disinformation, to prevent digital ad companies from profiting off false information.

The officials announced that they were beefing up the three-year-old voluntary code to make it better at fighting misinformation on big tech platforms.  

Vera Jourova, the VP of the European Commission, which is also tasked with taking on issues concerning the rule of law and disinformation, said that they want to cut the profits of producers of disinformation.

Profiteering on disinformation has to stop

Jourova said that disinformation is still something that attracts many people. So, the European Commission wants to engage the ad industry not to place ads next to fake news. The EU’s plan involves encouraging digital ad companies to sign up to adhere to the code.

It urges the platforms to share information on ads that any of them reject, to ensure that disinformation is not used to make profits.

The code also calls for ad transparency and bans on groups or individuals who systematically spread content that’s been debunked/falsified.

Who’s on board?

So far, Google, Facebook, Mozilla, Twitter, TikTok, and Microsoft are among the tech and social media companies that have signed on to adhere to this code of practice. Since it was launched in 2018, the code has tried to curb the rise of disinformation online.

It was formed before the European Parliament elections took place in 2019, after seeing the effects that such campaigns could have on elections in the 2016 US general election.

With time, we will be able to tell if it is working and if the companies that have signed up to adhere to it actually follow through. Until then, its voluntary nature will continue to be an open door for misinformation to continue.