Politicians Are Going to Use "Fake News" Panic as A Wedge to Enhance Censorship

This is simply a terrible idea and demonstrates the point I made after the last election, that "fake news" is the new "hate speech" -- in other words, an ill-defined, amorphous term that will be the excuse for censorship.  Every politician thinks that every criticism of themselves is "fake news".   Note the absolute relish with which the millennial Endgadget author greets this awful idea:

Fake news and hate speech are sadly unavoidable on social media, but that might change soon... in Germany, anyway. Late last week, Thomas Oppermann — chairman of the German Social Democratic Party — proposed a stringent law meant to hold companies like Facebook responsible when fake news makes the rounds. As reported by Der Spiegel(and translated by Deusche Well), Oppermann's plan would require Facebook to actively combat fake news all day, everyday. Here's the fascinating bit: if a fake news item pops up and Facebook can't address it within 24 hours, it would be subject to a €500,000 (or $522,575) for each post left untouched.

Oh, it gets better. Facebook and other "market-dominating platforms" would be required to to have teams in Germany dedicated to fielding reports of fake news and hate-filled posts. Fortunately for Oppermann — and German web users, most likely — the push to penalize companies for letting false, misleading or malicious content run wild has received plenty of support from the other major party in German politics, too. The country's Christian Democratic Union hates all of that stuff just as much, prompting one senior party member to promise definitive action "at the beginning of next year." The CDU has also proposed legislation (with backing from Chancellor Angela Merkel, no less) that would make it illegal to post fake news entirely.


  1. hcunn:

    Google news for Germany can limit themselves to government statements and pictures of kittens.

  2. Ike Evans:

    We have nothing to fear, Pandora's box is already open. The onslaught of human connectivity is far beyond any government to stop it by this point. That is, short of melting down the entire infrastructure with a barrage of nuclear weapons.

    Who is coming over for tea?

  3. J_W_W:

    The mask has dropped. The Progressives are abject fascists.

  4. irandom419:

    You can't make this stuff up.

  5. randian:

    Merkel desperately needs to shut down discussion of Islam in Germany. Too many German girls are getting raped to keep things quiet. What better way keep the population replacement plan going than to make criticism of it illegal as either "hate speech" or "fake news"?

  6. morganovich:

    am i the only one who thinks this looks an awful lot like the "ministry of truth" from 1984?

    note that facebook is already doing this in the US as well. they are going to outsource the decision on what news is "fake" to some completely unaccountable outside vendors several of which have serious political agendas. (including being funded by soros and his "moveon" group)

    this will likely mean that any story that:

    sheds doubt on manmade climate change
    claims that minimum wage hikes will costs jobs
    explains pay differences between men and women by looking at hours worked, job security, danger, etc

    is going to get down moderated.

    this is going to be a severe misstep for facebook. they are already hemorrhaging users and have lost their "cool" status. the young, in particular, are all headed elsewhere. what teen wants to share their life on a platform their parents and grandparents are on?

    that demo is already lost to FB. but this will now infuriate a big chunk of their only stable demo.

    the internet routes around damage. censorship is damage.

    this is going to cause accelerated user flight from FB.

  7. morganovich:

    "You can't make this stuff up."

    well, not anymore. now facebook will block you if you do.

  8. CC:

    "hate speech"--already prevents people in Germany from talking about terrorists. The gov keeps hiding the existence of mass assaults. How many immigrants to allow can't be talked about--and it is almost that bad here. Much of the mainstream media keeps putting out blatantly false news so how can one identify fake news?

  9. Heresiarch:

    The Germans never do seem to learn (or to develop a sense of irony), do they? Well, I'd guess this law, if passed, would have a very simple and immediate result: Facebook blacks out Germany. If they have to police German thought and German utterance of "incorrect propaganda", the German market won't be worth much to them either way. If they fail, they get fined, and if they succeed, no one in Germany wants to be on Facebook any more.

  10. Corky Boyd:

    The fake news blacklisting by Twitter will die quickly. First, there is no instant way to tell whether a story is true or not, especially something like the WaPo's story about Russians planting stories on Drudge and 200 mostly conservative websites. The Post provided no names and no documentation. If, as expected, the bulk of deemed "fake stories" are from conservative sources and are removed from the trending list, other sites will carry the message and Twitter will loose. Drudge is getting over a billion page views per month, more than the NY Times.

  11. MJ:

    am i the only one who thinks this looks an awful lot like the "ministry of truth" from 1984?

    Nope. The whiff of authoritarianism is all over this.

    Sadly, I'm seeing two steps ahead on this one. Germany goes through with this measure, then immediately American "progressives" start complaining about how far behind the times we are in patrolling this stuff. They propose a bill to do the exact same thing and nominate some petty, pro-censorship group (like whoever is running the Twitter Trust & Safety Council these days) to manage it.

    I don't get my news from Facebook so I'm not immediately and directly affected by it, but "first they came for the socialists..."

  12. Kurt Droffe:

    Well, next year is election year in Germany, federal and some states, so "the other major party", which is that of a chancellor who is responsible for letting people in who commit such crimes as in Berlin, is doing whatever it takes to keep at bay it's major competitor in the right, the AfD. I wont retell here all of the minor battles in Germany about free speech today, suffice it to say that it's a hot topic here at the moment: a powerful establishment that masks it's power greediness as moral superiority and wants to avoid a sincere discussion of pros and cons of immigration from Africa and Middle East at all cost - I repeat, at all cost. The party whip leader already mused openly about, literally!, making lying a crime.
    It's disheartening.

  13. JTW:

    hmm, those government statements are of course the real fake news.

  14. JTW:

    you're wrong. They'll just introduce a list of "trusted sources" and anything that's not from that list will get automatically censored.
    Of course the fake sources will be limited to government agencies, official government approved press agencies and broadcasters (BBC, CNN, Reuters, IPCC, Greenpeace, etc.).

    This is just the next attempt by the EU to actively censor the internet after a proposal several years ago to install a censorship agency that would have to vet all content placed on the internet by EU citizens and companies failed in the EP, not because they didn't want it but because they found it to be too expensive to implement.
    And yes, had that been approved it would have been illegal for any European citizen to post anything on any forum, blog, website, or web service.
    Instead all those postings would have to be sent to an EU agency for approval who'd then have made the actual post for them (with the "inappropriate" data removed or modified of course).

    This now, forcing the content aggregators to be the censors for them, with massive way out of proportion fined in case something slips the gaps, is the next attempt to achieve the same at essentially zero cost to EU governments.
    Result of it of course will be for those companies to take away posting rights from any person in the EU, or even any IP address in the EU, just to be safe.
    Which will have much the same effect as the original proposal.

  15. MJ:

    That sounds horrifying.

    Does the AfD seem inclined to push back against the calls for greater internet censorship, and if so, are they currently a large enough voting bloc to effect change?

  16. Kurt Droffe:

    Of course these measures as controlling "hate speech" (which, note, can mean anything from "Death to Israel" to "Merkel is a moron") via state sponsored entities, as prohibiting to spread "fake news" (which no one has sighted yet in Germany except coming from members of the administration and politicians claiming that the influx of migrants would cost next to nothing to the taxpayer - 100 billion Euros alone this year -, that it is mostly surgeons and engineers who come across the borders, that it is ridiculous to be afraid of terrorists etc) are aimed at the AfD and its supporters. You often hear slogans from the left like "Now that's incitement in the disguise of free speech" theses days, which reminds many people of the phrase "staatsfeindliche Hetze" (incitement against the state) in the GDR, which was a felony there until 25 years ago and maybe will be again soon.
    And no, until the election in August/October 2017 the AfD will not be in the federal parliament and so will be unable to stop any legislation of that kind; even after that date it will be in the opposition.
    Keep in mind that the longer you are a member of the parliament the bigger your pension will be and the earlier you may go into retirement, so there is a biiiig incentive to do whatever it takes to defend your party seat.