The Absolutely To-Be-Expected Outcome of Government Regulation of "Fake News" on Social Media

Regulations to limit "fake news" will inevitably be used to limit criticism of the government and individual politicians.  Here is the latest example, from the WSJ

A foreign visitor became the first person convicted and sentenced to jail under a new law to punish those deemed to have published “fake news”after he criticized the police response to the slaying of a Palestinian engineer in Kuala Lumpur.

Salah Salem Saleh Sulaiman, 46 years old, a Danish national of Yemeni origins, pleaded guilty Monday at a court hearing. He was sentenced to a week in jail but opted to serve a  month behind bars in lieu of paying a fine of about $2,600. He wasn’t represented by a lawyer.

The case marked unexpected circumstances for the first use of the law since Parliament passed it April 3 amid criticism by rights groups that it would be wielded to inhibit criticism of the government ahead of elections on May 9. The government has denied that that is its intent, and Mr. Salah is the only person to have been charged under it.....

Mr. Salah appeared in a video posted to YouTube—and since removed—from the scene of the assassination of Palestinian Fadi al-Batsh, an electrical engineer and university lecturer who had lived in Malaysia for a decade. He was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle as he walked to dawn prayers at a mosque. No one has been arrested.

Mr. Salah accused medical services and police of being slow to respond to the shooting. Authorities vehemently rejected the allegations and arrested him. On Monday, he apologized and said he had recently arrived in Malaysia to visit friends and didn’t know the law existed.

The "and" in the third paragraph is odd.  I would have used "but nevertheless"


  1. cc:

    It is not merely criticism. Any news that reveals a scandal will be labeled fake news. For example, Trump claimed early on that he was being wiretapped. Fake news, except it was true. A recent audit of photographs of the gas attacks in Syria ( shows that the same bodies were moved around to multiple locations to simulate more casualties, and that hospitals reported no injured--a gas attacks usually have far more injured than dead. So this was in fact fake news (propaganda), but the US military was suckered in and sent rockets. It is very hard to separate truth from fiction in the world of politics (or medicine, or anything) and any effort to censor will always benefit the group who do the censoring. I don't trust Facebook to do it either.
    Related to this is "hate speech", where even true things (men and women differ, affirmative action might be hurting many of the minorities it is supposed to help, trans people have a very high suicide attempt rate, etc) are labeled hate speech because someone is offended by the truth, while calls to exterminate men or whites or jews go unchallenged.

  2. wreckinball:

    Don't censor. I mean I listen to the Bozo's in congress and the Bozo Macron form France cheer on we have to protect the public from fake news. No you don't. We can decide all by our self whether we believe something or not.

    I mean lets see, what could possibly go wrong with politicians deciding what news is worthy or not, really?