Germany seeks to pass law allowing it to fine Facebook for stories it deems "fake news"
By: Brandon Morse
A bill with bipartisan support in Germany is currently being considered that would allow the German government to fine Facebook and other social networks like it over $500,000 euros for every day it leaves up a story that has been labeled as "fake news."
The stories don't have to be labeled as "fake news" by government officials. It appears that private complaints of a story being fake will be enough to trigger the government to order the story taken down, lest they be fined per day.
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The law would also force the social networks to create in-country offices focused on responding to takedown demands and would make these networks responsible for compensation if a post by individual users were found to slander someone.
"If after the relevant checks Facebook does not immediately, within 24 hours, delete the offending post then [it] must reckon with severe penalties of up to 500,000 euros," said Germany's parliamentary chief of the Social Democrat party, Thomas Oppermann in an interview with Germany's Der Spiegel magazine.
Germany's parliamentary elections are fast approaching, and there are fears that Russia will attempt to interfere in the elections as they are have alleged to have done during the U.S. elections. The fear is that they will utilize automated bot accounts to spread news stories not deemed truthful enough to remain where the German people can see them.
Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency, told Bild am Sonntag that a company like Facebook has a "social responsibility" because of the amount it earns online.
While this bill may be put in place with good intentions, it could be abused by those who simply don't agree with the news item and wish to see it stricken from social media. However, Facebook itself has already come up with a " seven step plan" to combat "fake news" within its site. This all could worry many on the right side of the political spectrum, as unidentified Facebook employees have admitted to routinely suppressing conservative news. While the claims have thus far gone unproven, these actions by both Facebook and Germany will do little to assuage fears of censorship in the name of "truth."Europe, Facebook, Censorship, European Union, Germany, fake news