The EU soft regulation of digital campaigning: regulatory effectiveness through platform compliance to the code of practice on disinformation

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Publication Date 2024
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How does the European Union handle the soft regulation of digital political campaigning? We assesses the effectiveness of the EU's soft governance concerning digital campaigning by examining how global digital platforms respond to the EU Code of Practice on Disinformation. In doing so, we advance a framework for analysis which measures specific steps in the platform compliance with soft law. Our results, based on the content analysis of platforms' annual reports, show that compliance depends on the priority assigned to regulatory themes by on-line corporations.

Overall, we find higher levels of platform formal commitment rather than symbolic commitment through forms of report editing to signal compliance with the code of practice. Our analysis also shows evidence of implementation following from formal commitments when reporting requirements are less rigid. Consequently, EU soft governance can be effective for digital campaigning in areas prioritised by the addressees of regulation.

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