G7 urge online platforms to promote reliable information
The fight by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) to promote reliable news and information in the digital domain received a strong endorsement from the G7’s leaders, who called on online platforms to adopt this goal and pledged support for initiatives such as the RSF-launched Partnership for Information and Democracy, to which 50 countries have so far signed up.
In the final statement issued at the end of summit in Hiroshima, Japan on 21 May, the G7 leaders said they “will work towards ensuring that fact-based, quality and trustworthy information is promoted, and call on digital platforms to support this approach.”
They also undertook to “increase cooperation on these issues with government and non-governmental partners from all regions who share the determination to promote access to such information, including through supporting relevant international initiatives, such as the Partnership for Information and Democracy.”
“We are getting closer to a victory in a key battle. The fight against disinformation undoubtedly requires a variety of measures, but one thing is certain – if the fight is limited to trying to identify disinformation, define it legally and then remove it, it will fail because of the judicial and practical challenges this poses. The most appropriate solution involves restoring those who produce information under conditions favouring its reliability to the centre of the online public domain. We need a systemic change, a change at the heart of the algorithms.
It was to put this principle into practice that RSF launched the Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI) as a way to promote reliable news and information online. Created in accordance with the procedures of the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), it offers a machine-readable certification of information produced according to journalistic standards that can be incorporated into platform algorithms in order to improve the information’s visibility and access to advertising revenue.
Earlier this month, RSF launched an “emergency protocol” version of the JTI in partnership with NewsGuard and with support from Microsoft for specific use in Ukraine. During the Summit for Information and Democracy that was held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2022, 11 of the countries that have signed up to Partnership for Information and Democracy issued a statement of support for the JTI. At the European Union General Affairs Council in March, Slovakia – with the support of eight other EU member states – issued a call for platforms to be required to amplify news sources that have been identified as reliable by the JTI. This is now the official position of both France and Slovakia in the ongoing negotiations about the proposed European Media Freedom Act (EMFA).
The JTI has already been incorporated into EU regulations, as it is named as way to identify reliable information in the EU Code of Practice on Disinformation that was adopted in June 2022. The proposed EMFA also refers to it. The challenge now is for democratic governments to make it a requirement for digital platforms to systemically promote reliable news and information. This is at the core of RSF’s recommendations for the proposed EMFA. As a way to increase cooperation on promoting access to reliable information, the G7 statement named the Partnership for Information and Democracy, whose implementing body, the Forum on Information and Democracy, has already made hundreds of legislative proposals. Sixty of them have already inspired European legislation in the form of the Digital Services Act (DSA) and Code of Practice on Disinformation.