Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI) incorporated into EU’s future Code of Conduct on Disinformation

The Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI), a mechanism for promoting trustworthy journalism online that was developed at the initiative of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), has been incorporated into the European Union’s new Code of Practice on Disinformation.

Agreement on the new version of the Code of Practice on Disinformation was finally reached on 24 May, after nearly a year of negotiations between major online platforms such as Meta, Google and TikTok, civil society organisations such as RSF, and the European Commission. The platforms now have until mid-June to undertake to implement the new tough measures for combatting disinformation.

The Code consists of several categories of measures to be adopted by the platforms. One of these categories, concerning the services they provide to their users, calls on the platforms to offer a function that promotes reliable news and information sources. Among the tools providing such a service, the JTI is the only one mentioned by name.

The JTI was developed as a European self-regulatory standard by experts from all over the world who were brought together by RSF. News media outlets and other news and information providers are able to use it to certify that their practices conform to the standards of the best professional journalism.

At the same time, online platforms can use the JTI in order to give greater visibility to reliable news and information sources in their search engine results and recommendation algorithms. This innovative strategy for combatting disinformation has the great advantage of not relying on content analysis, which can lead to censorship and undermine pluralism.

A much more ambitious code

The new Code of Practice on Disinformation – a big improvement on the 2018 version – is one of the codes of conduct that are recommended in the EU’s coming Digital Services Act (DSA). By implementing these codes of conduct, platforms will be able to show that they are complying with the DSA’s requirement to combat the “systemic risks” they are inflicting on democratic societies. Platforms that fail to comply with this obligation could be fined up to 6% of their global annual turnover.

As well as the JTI’s incorporation, RSF has contributed to several other improvements in the Code of Practice on Disinformation that are based on recommendations in the report entitled “How to end infodemics” that was produced by the Forum on Information and Democracy, another RSF initiative. They include using reliability indicators in advertising and giving academic and civil society researchers access to internal platform data.

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