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Sydney: Top tech giants like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, TikTok and Twitter have agreed on adopting the Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation that aims to address the spread of fake news and disinformation on online platforms.

The code, prepared by the Digital Industry Group Inc (DiGi), a non-profit industry association, will be reviewed in 12 months, reports ZDNet.

The code will apply to certain products and services that are delivered to end users in Australia, such as user-generated sponsored and shared content.

Private messaging services, email services, and enterprise services are excluded from the code.

The code was developed in response to government policy where it asked the major digital platforms to develop a voluntary code of conduct outlining what the platforms will do to address concerns regarding disinformation and credibility signalling for news content.

The code provides seven guiding principles, with the first aimed at protecting freedom of expression.

“Signatories should not be compelled by governments or other parties to remove content solely on the basis of its alleged falsity if the content would not otherwise be unlawful,” according to the code.

The digital platforms who have signed this code recognise their role as important actors within the Australian information ecosystem and have already implemented a range of measures to tackle the propagation of disinformation and misinformation amongst users of their services and products.

“Any actions taken by digital platforms to address the propagation of Disinformation and Misinformation should not contravene commitments they have made to respect the privacy of Australian users, including in terms and conditions, published policies and voluntary codes of conduct as well as by applicable laws,” the code read.

This includes respect for users’ expectations of privacy when using digital platforms and in private digital communications. Additionally, any access to data for research purposes must protect user privacy.

Meanwhile, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s ABC News app shot to the top of Apple’s App Store charts in Australia over the course of the last few days, just after Facebook banned Australian news sources on its platform.

ABC capitalised on Facebook’s news ban with an ad sending users to its app.

Facebook’s ban was in response to an Australian regulatory measure that will force tech platforms to pay Australian media companies for the content users share (and that platforms earn ad revenue from).



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