German Government Seeks to Fine Away Fake News on Social Media

Germany’s coalition is seeking to legislate the trend of proliferating lies and propaganda through social media. Should the measure, planned for a vote in early 2017, pass, the government would fine Facebook and other major social media platforms up to €500,000.

 

Social Democratic Party chair Thomas Opperman commented that each major platform would be required to build a legal protection office within its country. The office would also necessitate accessibility every hour of every day. He went on to state that should Facebook fail to remove the offensive message after 24 hours, then individual fines would be issued. Additionally, the subject of any fake news could seek a correction to be published at the same degree of importance.

 

In light of its commitment to outsource fact checking efforts, Facebook commented that it took the proliferation of false information seriously. Representatives for the media platform went on to say that they were working with politicians and experts to refine the process and that Facebook already offered several new applications to combat false information.

 

Other German politicians have commented that, being outside the umbrella of free speech, defamation and malicious gossip should be thoroughly prosecuted. Germany’s libel laws can incarcerate perpetrators for up to half a decade. Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, has called for stronger legislation that would allow the entire EU to fine offenders. Germany’s worries over false news may be partly driven by fears that it could detrimentally affect its upcoming election similarly to the United States.