Over the past couple of months, Facebook has been criticised for being plagued with a fake news problem. The social networking behemoth has acknowledged the problem and has, thus, introduced measures like community-based checks, partnering with fact-checking websites to curb the same. But some countries are still not happy with the company’s efforts and are planning to fine them.
Social Democratic Party (SPD) of Germany is looking to put in effect a new legislation that’ll levy fines of up to €500,000 (approx $525k) over most social networks who fail to remove hate speech and fake or misleading content from their platform, reports German news site Deutsche Welle.
The SPD parliamentary chairman Thomas Oppermann has purposely taken an aim at Facebook, which is currently being questioned for its integrity to push the new policy down the technology firm’s throats. Speaking about the same with Der Spiegel, Oppermann adds,
Facebook did not avail itself of the opportunity to regulate the issue of complaint management itself. Now market dominating platforms like Facebook will be legally required to build a legal protection office in Germany that is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
If, after appropriate examination, Facebook does not delete the offending message within 24 hours, it should expect individual fines of up to 500,000 euros. Furthermore, at the request of the people concerned, there should be some form of remedy or correction within the same range of value.
If this legislation against social media behemoths, Twitter, Facebook or Google is passed in the country then they would be required to set up offices to respond to user complaints within 24 hours. And if the company fails to fulfill its responsibilities then they should be ready to face hefty fines for their negligence.
The threat of drafting and putting into effect a new policy to curb fake news stems partly from Germany’s fears that the spread of false news could adversely affect the upcoming elections in 2017. Thus, German judges and state prosecutors have now also aired the need for cracking down on fake news being distributed via social media platforms such as Facebook, reports Reuters.
Germany’s Justice Minister Heiko Maas in an interview notes that she’s repeatedly warned U.S technology giants to respect their country’s laws and keep their platform in check against defamation. Talking about the same, Mass adds,
Defamation and malicious gossip are not covered under freedom of speech. Justice authorities must prosecute that, even on the internet. Anyone who tries to manipulate the political discussion with lies needs to be aware [of the consequences].
The ruling coalition in Germany, including the Christian Democratic Union, chancellor Angela Merkel’s party definitely wants a legislation that prevents flow of hate speech and fake news — which allegedly affected U.S presidential elections — before the 2017 elections. Facebook shouldn’t be taking these threats lightly as it could be required to pay large sums of money even if a handful of its 36.8 million German users plan to report misleading stories in their feeds.