Statement on our complaint against Meta

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Note: This statement was updated on the 16th April following a request from DIGI to make explicit that the complaints sub-committee made the decision and is “independent” from DIGI. DIGI would also like to note that the logos featured in our video are of its members, not all of whom are signatories to the Code it administers. Unlike Meta, we are happy to consider requests to issue public corrections. Unlike Meta, who were presented with technical evidence and expert advice their labelling system did not function as they claimed, as well as polling data more Australians were misled by their statement than not, and still refused to make a public correction, we are delighted to amend our materials.

DIGI has advised today the independent complaints sub-committee have “dismissed” a complaint from Reset.Tech Australia on a potential breach of the Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation (ACPDM). The code was written and is administered by DIGI, who rely on membership contributions from social media companies.

Reset.Tech Australia lodged a formal complaint against Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, alleging they have been misleading Australians in its reporting on disinformation and misinformation controls on its platform Facebook.

The complaint made to industry body DIGI comes in the wake of concerns that Meta’s efforts in combating misinformation through its ‘warning labels’ process is not as robust as it claims in its 2023 Transparency Report.

Our evidence suggests that numerous falsehoods are bypassing Facebook’s automated systems meant to label fact-checked misinformation. Having written to Meta in November 2023 to put the company on notice, we requested Meta:

  1. provide clarification on its labelling system,
  2. include Australian-specific data on their processes in its next report,
  3. issue a public correction about its labelling processes.

We also noted that the company’s Transparency Report was potentially misleading regarding its efforts to mitigate misinformation via labelling.

Though Meta indicated it would provide further clarification in its next report, the company stopped short of issuing a public correction and declined to provide further data. This led Reset.Tech to trigger the complaints process with DIGI. DIGI’s independent complaints sub-committee met on Tuesday 26th March to determine the eligibility of the complaint but were unable to come to a decision. While we have not been advised of a subsequent complaints hearing, we understand the complaint has been dismissed, closing off any further avenues for redress.

On the 15th April, the committee advised that Meta had made a “fair and reasonable offer to update Meta’s next transparency reports (due May 2024) with additional information about the outcomes of its moderation and fact-checking process, but Reset Australia rejected this offer.”

With all respect to the committee, this is a mischaracterisation of what happened. As above, we requested Meta provide further information so stakeholders could meaningfully verify the claims they made in their last Transparency Report. Meta refused to do that. Instead, they offered a few sentences of additional narrative language. We thanked Meta for their suggestion to add clarifying language in their next Transparency Report, but urged them to make a public correction. Meta refused to do that, and DIGI’s independent complaints sub-committee has endorsed their position. Our email to Meta is available here.

A summary of our complaint is available here:

From Reset.Tech Australia (attributed to Alice Dawkins, Executive Director)

  • “We have been in polite conversation with Meta for over four months. The decision today indicates that platforms can say what they like in their Transparency Reports and their source of independent audit does not have the capacity to run significant data testing of platforms’ claims. This is not a semantic exercise – the stakes are far higher.”

  • “The Minister for Communications has said ‘doing nothing is not an option’ on misinformation. Well, we’re sounding a clear alarm that it’s time for government to do something. Big tech have carte blanche in Australia to make whatever decisions they like on our information environment, shroud those systems and processes in PR waffle, and block critical scrutiny.”

  • “This is an embarrassment for a country that once led the world on online safety, and now lags well behind democracies who have exerted the wherewithal to legislate powers to ask tough questions of big tech and compel them to produce meaningful transparency on the public’s terms. Transparency on industry’s terms is not transparency.”


From Human Rights Law Centre, who provided input to the expert panel (attributed to David Mejia-Canales, Senior Lawyer)

  • “Technology should bring our communities together, not divide us for profit. But the lax, self-regulation of big tech platforms is allowing them to profit from our personal data, and wreak havoc on our democracy. Self-regulation and co-regulation has failed in every other industry, and as we’ve seen today, DIGI is a toothless tiger, unable to hold the big tech platforms it is funded by to account.”
  • “Big tech platforms are profiting from allowing misinformation to spread like wildfire. This is turbo-charging discrimination, dividing our society and distorts public debate on matters of critical importance. We urge the Albanese Government to move away from self-regulatory models and instead appoint an independent, well-resourced, regulator of big tech platforms so they operate transparently and are held accountable for any damaging impacts on people, society, or our democratic processes that their products may cause.”