Germany to fine Facebook, social media platforms for fake news

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Social media has been riddled with a swarm of fake and unreliable news as of late, and the German government is literally looking to make those involved pay.

Despite Facebook’s announcement of self-regulating its bogus news dilemma through the aid of fact-checkers, Germany will reportedly impose a $523,320 (P26 million) fine on the tech giant and other social platforms for every fabricated story containing offensive content and hateful speech.

READ: Facebook partners with fact-checkers to eradicate fake news

Once the proposed bill is passed, Facebook, along with other social media platforms will be legally required to build a legal protection office in Germany that is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, according to The Guardian.

If a network fails to remove an offensive content within a 24-hour period, they would be subject to the hefty penalty, or be asked to present a form of remedy or correction within the equal range value.

“We are already looking in detail at how we can make providers of online platforms criminally liable for undeleted content that breaks German law,” German justice minister Heiko Maas was quoted as saying in the report. “Of course, if other measures don’t work, we also need to think about fines. That would be a strong incentive for quick action.”

Germany, which makes up approximately 36.8 million of Facebook’s nearly 2-billion users, has one of the strictest laws on hate speech in the world, particularly for incidents concerning the Holocaust and hatred amongst minorities.

For its part in giving users an avenue to express such hatred, Maas has singled out Facebook for its supposed moral obligation to filter such content.

“Companies that make money with their social networks have social obligations. It cannot be in any company’s interest that their platform is used to commit crimes,” he said.

Furthermore, Maas has also assembled a hate speech taskforce compromising of representatives from Google, Facebook and Twitter, but admitted that these tech companies were still struggling to react adequately to breaches of law.

“We urgently need more transparency,” the German government executive said. “We could imagine obliging social networks to publish at regular intervals how many complaints they have received about illegal hate speech and how they dealt with them.

Maas explained that such a requirement would allow everyone to see “how many complaints there are and how many deletions. That too would increase the pressure on Facebook, Twitter, Google and others.”

Meanwhile, as of this writing, Facebook and the other platforms have yet to issue statements on the proposed fine. Khristian Ibarrola

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