Advertising Industry bodies respond to European Commission’s consultation on fake news

23 February 2018 – Advertising Industry bodies respond to European Commission’s consultation on fake news

The European Association of Communications Agencies (EACA), together with the European Publishers’ Council (EPC), the Federation of European Direct and Interactive Marketing (FEDMA), the Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe (IAB Europe) and News Media Europe (NME), has welcomed the European Commission’s initiative to organise a public discussion and to raise awareness of the phenomenon of fake news and online disinformation in a joint industry paper.

According to a joint industry position issued today by the trade bodies: ‘Fake news can be considered as a global concern, creating numerous challenges for citizens, digital industries, media and legislators’.

The paper is released in response to the European Commission’s consultation on fake news and online disinformation whose objective is to:

• Assess the effectiveness of current actions by market players regarding fake news
• Assess the need and potential measures for scaling up the current actions and/or introducing new actions
• Find a definition of fake information online

EACA and the other associations representing the advertising industry emphasise that ‘in cases where fake news content receives ad funding it is important to understand that the advertising industry must be considered as suffering collateral damage from intentional harmful behaviour, not as contributors to malpractice’.

In tackling the issue, it is important to differentiate fake news from some legal advertising practices (including native advertising, advertorials or sponsored content more broadly), which fall outside the scope of the consultations. The signatories also believe that hard law which aims specifically to address content is not the appropriate tool to solve the issue of fake news, as this could perversely have a direct impact on freedom of expression and freedom of the media. On the other hand, different civil society initiatives to tackle misinformation online, including fact-checking, should be supported, along with promoting media literacy.

Read EACA’s joint industry position paper here.