Because of the increasing popularity of populist candidates in Germany and in other countries of the world, Berlin and hi-tech giant Facebook announced accelerated efforts to suppress the so-called “fake news” before the German elections in September.
As in the US, the campaign to suppress fake news carried by Facebook in Germany will include support of organizations or third party companies to “verify the facts” and to mark the news as “disputed”, if it turns out they contain “fake”or “misleading” content.
According to the Financial Times, German users of the social network will now be able to report the news as fake, and it will be sent to Correctiv, a third party company that checks the information.
If the company discovers that the news is fake, then it will be labeled “disputed”, without any explanation. “Disputed” news will not be prioritized by the algorithm of the Facebook news feed service, and the social network users will receive a warning if you decide to distribute the news.
Facebook said it keeps in touch with the media and German media groups, while it seeks to bring more partners in the project.
“Our focus is now placed on Germany, but certainly we think that other countries could follow”, claimed the company.
Similar efforts to attract the support of a third party company for verification of information in the US, named Poynter, drew attention after it was discovered after a quick search on Google, that the company is financed by none other than the Open Society Foundations that belongs to George Soros, a foundation that can be connected with many things, but certainly not with political impartiality.
A quick analysis of the Poynter’s website shows that it is financed by the top left billionaires, including the Open Society Foundations of George Soros, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google and Omidyar Network, which belongs to eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, all of them supporting the neo liberal left in the last American presidential campaign.
In addition, Germany considers the adoption of several laws that could impose fines of up to 500,000 euros and 5 years in prison for distributing “fake news”, said German Minister of Justice, Heiko Maas, arguing that “social networks have a duty” to censor “lies and hate campaigns.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in turn that there are signs that online attacks and disinformation campaigns will be launched in Russia, and that they could “play a role in the election campaign” in Germany.
In an interview on Sunday for the newspaper Welt Am Sonntag, Justice Minister Heiko Maas, argued that “fake news” pose a threat to the German culture of debate, and added that, in extreme cases, those responsible could get setenced to jail for up to 5 years.
“Social media has a duty. It can not be in the interest of Facebook as a platform to be used wrongly to spread lies and campaigns that promote hatred. Criminal content should be deleted immediately after it is reported. And it should be easy for users to report fake news,” said the German minister.
The German Ministry of Justice will present a bill that will include a “list of fines” for breaches [of the regulations], said Volker Kauder to reporters over the weekend, the principal deputy of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the parliament.
Thomas Oppermann, Kauder’s counterpart in the Social Democratic Party, coalition partner of Merkel’s party, said last month to the Der Spiegel publication, that fines could reach 500,000 euros, and websites like Facebook should be required to publish corrections after deleting posts.
Kauder said that “fines must hurt, otherwise they will not work.”
And while many would say that this is an unprecedented attempt by the left to collaborate with mainstream media for censoring their opponents political party, Merkel’s CDU would like people to be quiet because this crusade against “fake news” merely seeks “to protect Germany against manipulation of the democratic process.”
“Social networks take too long to remove insults before they get out of control. There are clear limits on freedom of expression in the real world that are not yet applied on the Internet, and this must change. It’s about posts that promote hatred, as well as fake news,” said Stephan Harbarth, an MP from the CDU.
Harbarth said he would like the law against “fake news” to be adopted before national elections in Germany this year, which will take place in September. He insists that the law is not intended to increase the chances of CDU, but rather “to protect Germany against manipulation of the democratic process.”