ICCO has been appointed as an official partner of the COE, the international human rights body whose membership includes 47 countries, 27 of which are EU members.
ICCO, whose members include the PRCA, said representatives of the body will attend quarterly meetings to support the Council’s efforts to promote respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law on the internet. They will join the likes of tech giants Google, Facebook and Microsoft.
Recently, social media platforms, including Facebook and YouTube, have faced a backlash for allowing users to widely distribute hate speech and misinformation on their platforms, including misleading and false political advertising.
Facebook failed to prevent its platform from being used to "foment division and incite offline violence" towards to the Rohingya in Myanmar, while YouTube has had its own difficulties tackling misinformation and unsavoury video content from being uploaded on its platform.
The COE is expected to explore issues including fake news, digital democracy and hate speech.
Last week, ICCO representatives attended a meeting on the Council’s workplan for digital activity in 2020. The discussion focused on four themes: artificial intelligence, facial recognition, hate speech and digital literacy. ICCO said it will provide updates and consultation opportunities for its members.
ICCO deputy CEO Rob Morbin said:"The Council of Europe’s decision to induct ICCO is a powerful endorsement of the strategic value of public relations. ICCO’s partnership with the Council is testament to the growing respect businesses and Institutions hold for PR and communications.
"I’m proud that CCO will play a prominent role in shaping the Council’s policy on digital information. Our members are responsible for the way in which information is communicated with the public; whether via social media, through the press, or directly from brand platforms. We are committed to implementing the necessary frameworks to ensure new technologies are used ethically."
ICCO member associations are from 66 countries globally, representing over 3,000 PR firms.