Evaluating VLOP and VLOSE Implementation of the Strengthened EU Code of Practice on Disinformation in Bulgaria

Kiely, Keith Peter and Margova, Ruslana and Gargova, Silvia and Dobreva, Milena and Gandova, Teodora and Stefanova, Tsvetelina and Kireva, Veneta and Bontcheva, Kalina (2023) Evaluating VLOP and VLOSE Implementation of the Strengthened EU Code of Practice on Disinformation in Bulgaria. European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO), Italy.

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In June of 2022, Google, Meta, Microsoft, TikTok, Twitter (rebranded as X) and a selection of advertising industry companies all signed up to the strengthened Code of Practice on Disinformation (European Commission, 2022). One of the goals of this strengthened version of the code was to empower the industry to adhere to self-regulatory standards in order to combat disinformation. The strengthened code also claims to set a more ambitious set of commitments and measures aimed at combating disinformation online. Our aim here is to offer an assessment or evaluation of the implementation of the 2022 Code of Practice on Disinformation (CoP) by these companies in Bulgaria. Very little information exists on the implementation of the strengthened Code of Practice when it comes to Bulgaria by Very Large Online Platforms and Very Large Online Search Engines (VLOP and VLOSE) and this is a country which is particularly vulnerable to disinformation narratives. This detailed analysis of VLOP and VLOSE compliance reports offers a general overview of the responses of Google, Meta, Microsoft, TikTok, and Twitter in line with three major pillars of (i) Advertising and Political advertising; (ii) Integrity of services; and (iii) Empowering Users, the research community and Fact-Checkers. We focus specifically on the data provided for Bulgaria in order to identify any important gaps or issues which should be addressed in future VLOP and VLOSE responses to disinformation and their compliance reports.