A Year in Review: Fighting Online Disinformation

A year ago, Mozilla signed the first ever Code of Practice on Disinformation, brokered in Europe as part of our commitment to an internet that elevates critical thinking, reasoned argument, shared knowledge, and verifiable facts. The Code set a wide range of commitments for all the signatories, from transparency in political advertising to the closure of fake accounts, to address the spread of disinformation online. And we were hopeful that the Code would help to drive change in the platform and advertising sectors.

Since then, we’ve taken proactive steps to help tackle this issue, and today our self assessment of this work was published by the European Commission. Our assessment covers the work we’ve been doing at Mozilla to build tools within the Firefox browser to fight misinformation, empower users with educational resources, support research on disinformation and lead advocacy efforts to push the ecosystem to live up to their own commitments within the Code of Practice.

Most recently, we’ve rolled-out enhanced security features in the default setting of Firefox that safeguards our users from the pervasive tracking and collection of personal data by ad networks and tech companies by blocking all third-party cookies by default. As purveyors of disinformation feed off of information that can be revealed about an individual’s browsing behavior, we expect this protection to reduce the exposure of users to the risks of being targeted by disinformation campaigns.

We are proud of the steps we’ve taken during the last year, but it’s clear that the platforms and online advertising sectors  need to do more – e.g. protection against online tracking, meaningful transparency of political ads and support of the research community  – to fully tackle online disinformation and truly empower individuals. In fact, recent studies have highlighted the fact that disinformation is not going away – rather, it is becoming a “pervasive and ubiquitous part of everyday life”.

The Code of Practice represents a positive shift in the fight to counter misinformation, and today’s self assessments are proof of progress. However, this work has only just begun and we must make sure that the objectives of the Code are fully realized. At Mozilla, we remain committed to further this agenda to counter disinformation online.