The fight against fake news is picking up steam in Germany, with lawmakers preparing to fast track a law that would require social media sites to do more to halt its propagation. Germany’s Social Democratic Party called out Facebook and its role in the increased visibility of fake news, saying that tougher measures should be implemented against the site.
SDP Chairman Thomas Opperman told Der Spiegel that Facebook had the opportunity to regulate fake news and failed to take it. Because of this inaction, the German government will be looking to build in legal protections through the legislative process.
According to the proposed law, Facebook stands to be fined up to 500,000 euros (about RM2.3 million) if it fails to delete offending messages within 24 hours of being reported. Some sort of remedy would also need to be issued in the same time period as well, although Opperman did not clarify what this remedy would have to look like.
Germany is concerned about the impact of fake news on elections, as was seen in the recent American general election. Germans are preparing to vote in 2017, with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats expressing concern for the increasing influence of the far right movements.
There is also the fear that Russia has been using social media to affect the outcomes of elections. Western countries have suspicions that the communist regime has been working to alter public perception in its favour.
That being said, Facebook has announced new measures to counter fake news on its site, and has engaged the services of third party fact checkers. It’s difficult to estimate whether the measures will have any effect, but it is a good place to start for the social media service that once said that it has no obligation to do anything.