Found Outright Lies On Facebook Or TikTok? Australia’s Misinformation Complaints Portal Is Now Open

Found Outright Lies On Facebook Or TikTok? Australia’s Misinformation Complaints Portal Is Now Open
Screenshot: Facebook

The Digital Industry Group (DIGI) has launched a misinformation complaints portal that will allow you to officially complain about tech giants such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Tik-Tok, Twitter and Facebook.

The complaints portal forms part of DIGI’s work on combating misinformation on platforms used in Australia.

In February, Google, Microsoft, Tik-Tok, Twitter, Facebook and Redbubble were the first handful of companies that signed onto DIGI’s voluntary code of practice, which is aimed at combating the spread of misinformation and disinformation in Australia.

Since launch, the code has seen two further signatories in Adobe and Apple.

Under the Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation, signatories have committed to safeguards to protect against online disinformation and misinformation, including publishing and implementing policies on their approach, and providing a way for their users to report content that may violate those policies. You can read more about the code here.

The Misinformation Complaints Portal

DIGI on Monday has ‘bolstered’ the governance of this code with independent oversight and a facility (the misinformation complaints portal) for the public to report breaches by signatories of their code commitments.

DIGI has appointed an independent Complaints Sub-Committee it said will resolve complaints about possible breaches by signatories of their code commitments, in addition to creating a portal on its website for the public to raise such complaints.

DIGI has also appointed an independent complaints committee to oversee potential breaches of the code.

The signatories agreed to provide annual transparency reports and on Monday, DIGI also appointed an independent expert to fact check and attest these reports.

Who Is DIGI?

They’re a non-profit industry association advocating for the digital industry in Australia.

The ACMA – Australia’s comms and media regulator – gave the group authority to develop an industry code, instead of a government-defined one. The ACMA is expected to be reporting on DIGI’s performance – and the adherence to the code by the tech giants – before the government considers if it needs to take charge of the code and make it mandatory.

“[The] government will be watching carefully to see whether this voluntary code is effective in providing safeguards against the serious harms that arise from the spread of disinformation and misinformation on digital platforms,” Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said earlier this year.

To Some, This Is Just A PR Stunt

Reset Australia (an organisation working to counter digital threats to democracy) says the misinformation complaints portal is essentially another failed attempt at self regulation and a PR stunt to look as though they’re doing something to tackle the problem.

“DIGI’s proposed new governance arrangements are laughable given the problem they seek to address: Big Tech’s fundamental threat to democracy. The DIGI code is voluntary and opt-in, with no enforcement and no penalties. Clearly, self regulation does not work,” Reset Australia’s Director of tech policy Dhakshayini Sooriyakumaran said.

“As Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen said last week: ‘until incentives change at Facebook, we should not expect Facebook to change’.  The incentives have not changed. DIGI has pulled together some great minds for their proposed board, but their ability to affect meaningful reform will not be realised without proper regulation.”