Disinformation and misinformation are not new trends; digital content that is verifiably false, misleading, or deceptive has been around for almost as long as the internet has existed. However, over the last few years, we’ve seen growing awareness about the harms that disinformation and misinformation can cause to individuals and to trust in our systems.

After the ACCC’s Digital Platform Inquiry report was handed down in December 2019, the Australian Government asked digital platforms to develop a voluntary code of practice to help to address disinformation and misinformation.

In February 2021, DIGI, the non-profit industry association advocating for the digital industry in Australia, released The Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation. Digital platforms that sign up to this Code agree to abide by a set of rules, including publishing and implementing policies on misinformation and disinformation, providing users with a way to report content against those policies, and implementing a range of measures to reduce the spread and visibility of mis- and disinformation. They must also produce annual transparency reports about these efforts.

The Australian Media and Communications Authority (ACMA) provided a report to the Australian Government in June 2021 which examined the development process for The Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation, the adequacy of digital platforms’ measures, and the broader impacts of misinformation in Australia. Given the potential for large scale harm that disinformation and misinformation can have upon Australians, ACCAN is calling on the Government to release the findings of the ACMA’s report as a matter of urgency. With an election due to be called in the coming months, Australians deserve to know how the voluntary measures to tackle disinformation and misinformation are performing, and if tougher regulation is needed to keep Australians safe.

DIGI will conduct a review of the Code in 2022 where members of the public will have the opportunity to share their thoughts on the code and how it can be improved. ACCAN research released in November 2021 found that nearly half (48%) of Australians don't know where to go to complain about dating apps, 34% of Australians don’t know where to go to complain about social media services, ánd 39% are unsure where to go to complain about job search sites. In this context, efforts to improve the public’s awareness of initiatives like The Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation are needed.

Making a Complaint Regarding Disinformation and Misinformation

As part of The Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation, DIGI has established a complaints portal to allow people to report misinformation and disinformation issues from digital platforms that have signed up to the Code.

When can I make a complaint to DIGI?

  • You are over 18 years old or you are the parent/caregiver of someone aged 14 years old or older.
  • The digital platform is a signatory to The Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation? Current signatories include Apple, Adobe, Google, Meta, Microsoft, Redbubble, TikTok and Twitter.
  • It has been less than six months since you discovered the issue.

What can I complain about to DIGI?

  • You can complain about a breach of The Australian Disinformation and Misinformation Code of Practice by signatories to the code.
  • Breaches could include not publishing policies and information about how the digital platform handles disinformation and misinformation or failing to provide reports on how they are detecting and removing content that violates platform policies.

What can’t I complain about to DIGI?

  • The Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation does not cover individual pieces of content on signatory digital platforms. This means that if you see a post on a website like Facebook that you believe is misinformation, you will need to complain directly to Facebook, not DIGI.
  • Private messaging services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, as well as email services are not captured under the Code.
  • Additionally, the Code outlines certain types of content that are exempt, including:
    • content produced in good faith for entertainment (including satire and parody) or for educational purposes;
    • content that is authorised by an Australian State or Federal Government;
    • political advertising or content authorised by a political party registered under Australian law; and
    • news content that is the subject of a published editorial code which sets out content standards and or/complaints mechanisms.

How do I make a complaint to DIGI?

  • Lodge a complaint through DIGI’s Disinformation and Misinformation Complaint Portal.
  • DIGI will confirm if your complaint is eligible or not.
  • If your complaint is eligible, the platform you’ve complained about will have up to six weeks to respond.
  • If you are not happy with the platform’s response, you have 30 days to escalate your complaint to DIGI.
  • If your complaint is deemed a “material breach” – i.e. a serious violation of the Code, DIGI will take your complaint to their Complaints Sub-committee who will investigate further.




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