Germany Could Fine Facebook €500,000 for Every Fake News Post
Ashley Allen / 2 years ago
While Facebook wrings its hands over its fake news problem, Germany could force the social network to take real action to prevent lies and propaganda posing as fact from being spread across the platform. The German government has proposed fining Facebook up to €500,000 (approximately £430,000 or US$525,000) for failing to take action against each fake news post it fails to take action against. Germany is holding a general election next year, and the nation’s politicians fear that targeted propaganda – possibly from Russia – could affect citizens’ voting.
“The German government is planning a law that will levy fines on Facebook, and it comes amid fears that viral fake news stories could affect national elections there in 2017. “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.
Ministers are preparing to introduce a bill next year that will order Facebook to compensate people who’ve been affected by fake or defamatory stories passed around on the site. Laws around defamation are stricter in Germany than in the United States.
The new law would also require Facebook and other social networks to set up a “legal protection unit” in Germany for people affected by the stories, according to Oppermann. These local offices would allow companies like Facebook to respond faster to complaints against defamation and fake news.
Both Oppermann’s party and coalition partner Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats party are considering the bill.”
Germany is also angry that Facebook profits from popular fake stories, and that, as such, it has a responsibility to apply journalistic ethics to the news that it hosts.
“Facebook is earning an awful lot of money with fake news,” Hans-Georg Maassen, head of German domestic intelligence, told Bild am Sonntag. “A company that earns billions from the internet also has a social responsibility.”