Disinfo Update 05/02/2019

Our weekly newsletter on disinformation issues.

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Exams

Last week was the first exam session for the signatories of the EU code of practice. This week’s newsletter will come back to the first reports by the signatories (Google, Twitter, Facebook, Mozilla and trade associations representing the advertising industry), presenting their efforts to comply with their commitments. 

Facebook (link to Facebook’s report)

  • Will extend the transparency on political advertising already in place in the US, Brazil and UK. The person paying for the ad will need to confirm its location and identity. The ads will be archived for seven years.
  • Will strengthen the verification process of content authenticity and detection of fake accounts.
  • Will continue to rely on a network of fact-checkers to detect false stories and will promote trusted content in News Feed.
  • Will establish a European research advisory commission to award researches identified as relevant to the Academic community.

Google (link to Google’s report)

  • Has already implemented obligations for advertisers to comply with policies against misrepresentation complemented by a “valuable inventory policy”. In 2019, the company should provide additional metrics specific to EU member states and upgrade implementation mechanisms before the European elections.
  • Regarding political ads in the context of EU elections, Google will also introduce an election-ads transparency report and searchable ad library in a downloadable format.
  • The company also underlines its efforts to surface fact-check content and support projects to surface indicators of credibility. 
  • Hired dedicated staff to work on disinformation project.
  • Will roll out a new version of Firefox with additional privacy settings and tracking protection targeted to reduce user’s exposure to disinformation campaigns. A specific version including relevant add-ons should be released in March.
  • Mozilla foundation also recruited a cohort specifically working on disinformation issues

Mozilla (link to Mozilla’s report)

  • Hired dedicated staff to work on disinformation project.
  • Will roll out a new version of Firefox with additional privacy settings and tracking protection targeted to reduce user’s exposure to disinformation campaigns. A specific version including relevant add-ons should be released in March.
  • Mozilla foundation also recruited a cohort specifically working on disinformation issues.

According to Mozilla, Facebook ad archive doesn’t provide enough technical feature to allow third-party to efficiently use their data to provide apps that would bring more transparency to political targeting. Mozilla is currently developing an add-on to its Firefox browser that would analyse ad targeting on Facebook.

Twitter (link to Twitter’s report)

  • Also underlines its ad policy, draws attention to its annual transparency report and ads transparency centre launched in 2018. Promoted content are also clearly labelled as such.
  • Twitter will continue its efforts to address spam, malicious automation, and fake accounts.
  • In terms of support to the research community, Twitter released account suspected of information operations and provides support to organisations focusing on Europeanenvironment (including EU Disinfolab, which received support from Twitter in 2018).

Advertising trade associations (reports from World Federation of Advertisers, European Association of Communication Agencies and Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe)

When it comes to the trade associations representing the advertising sector, they committed to raise awareness about the Code amongst their members. But one can regret the absence of corporate signatories, while brands and advertisers should play a greater role in the efforts to demonetize purveyors of disinformation.

Commission wants more efforts

At a conference in Brussels, European Commissioner for digital affairs Mariya Gabriel welcomed the efforts made by the signatories of the code of practice but stressed remaining weaknesses to be improved ahead of the upcoming European elections in May:

  • Most of the initiatives are deployed only in some members states
  • The platform’s mostly commit on transparency over political ads
  • KPIs should be detailed for each member states
  • Support to research should be strengthened
  • Users should be empowered with relevant tools

The Commissioner also announced a week dedicated to media literacy in March.

Such efforts by tech companies should be welcomed and supported. From our perspective, we still regret a lack of transparent access to data from several actors. As each of the signatories are focusing on political advertising transparency, and repositories of political ads, we can regret the lack of harmonisation in this matter, as a common repository would help analyse cross-platforms campaigns.

Library

Agenda and announcements

ASD seeking input on a study on institutionalizing hybrid threat response. Take part to the survey

HR corner

  • The world wide web foundation has open positions as policy manager and communication officer.