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ACMA releases disinformation report


The ACMA has today released a report outlining its views on digital platforms’ efforts under the voluntary Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation (the code).

The report builds on the ACMA’s continued oversight over the voluntary code, including our position paper guiding code development, the June 2021 report to government, and the submission to DIGI’s 2022 code review. The June 2021 report to government included a recommendation that the ACMA continue to oversee the operation of the code and provide a further report on its effectiveness at the end of 2022–23, as well as continuing relevant research. This 2023 report delivers on that recommendation.

The ACMA’s report outlines its views on the current code as well as the operation of code governance and reporting arrangements.

The key findings include:

  • the revised version of the code has addressed some pressing issues. This includes a revised definition of harm that better captures cumulative effects over time, modified reporting requirements that facilitate smaller platforms to become signatories of the code, and a new outcome for platforms to provide transparency about recommender systems
  • industry needs to take further steps to review the scope of the code and its ability to adapt quickly to technology and services changes such as generative AI
  • how signatories report their actions under the code must improve to enable an assessment of signatory’s progress to achieve the code’s objectives and outcomes
  • there remains an urgent need to improve the level of transparency about what measures platforms are taking and the effectiveness of those measures.

Alongside the report, we have released findings from our research into reporting and complaints about harmful content on digital platforms. Overall, it is clear from the research that Australian users of digital platforms are willing to complain about the harmful content they are exposed to on digital platforms but are then generally dissatisfied with the responses they receive from platforms.

The ACMA has released the report to share our insights and data. We consider this may be useful to inform contributions to the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts’ public consultation on exposure draft legislation.

While consideration of the legislation takes place, the ACMA will continue to oversee the code and work with digital platforms to improve the current self-regulatory arrangements.

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