PIJI concerned by dis/misinformation code

22 February 2021

The Public Interest Journalism Initiative is expressing deep concern regarding the voluntary Australian Code of Practice On Disinformation and Misinformation, released this morning by the digital industry association, DIGI.

The need for an industry code or regulatory control to deal with misinformation has never been greater and we welcome the move to develop a code.

However, this code falls well short through its lack of detail and clarity of expectations on its signatories and on the role of public interest journalism to assist in combating misinformation.

One key objective of the code states that digital platforms should “empower consumers to make better informed choices of digital content and access alternative sources of information”, but the Code does not define “alternative sources of information”. It also fails to define the professional standards under which news content is produced.

“The Code appears to be little more than a broad industry statement of intent,” says PIJI CEO Anna Draffin.

“We are deeply concerned by the process of the Code’s development, specifically the limited consultation with news organisations since the expansion of the remit to include misinformation.

“The risk of harm caused by misinformation is significantly underestimated by the definition in this Code. It does not recognise that the accumulation of small amounts of misinformation disseminated over time can culminate in serious threats to the democratic process and community safety.”

The Code also provides little detail on governance mechanisms, administrative oversight, selection and composition of independent members and complaint handling, which raises a multitude of questions.

It also does not include agreed or uniform metrics for reporting and no requirements for record-keeping.

For any media inquiries or comment please contact:

Isabelle Oderberg
Phone 61 435 966 251
Email: isabelle.oderberg@piji.com.au

About the Public Interest Journalism Initiative

The Public Interest Journalism Initiative was established to ensure Australia develops a sustainable ecosystem of independent, pluralistic journalism. We are a non-partisan organisation conducting research, developing policy solutions and building a public conversation on the importance of this issue.

PIJI’s work is guided by its core principles of public interest, neutrality, independence, a diversity of voices and duration.

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