The coalition government in Germany has had it with fake or inaccurate news reports circulating on social media. A plan is afoot to put a heavy foot down on fake news on Facebook and other social networks. Legal sanctions may be levied against social media sites that do not remove provably fake news within a set period of time. Sanction might come in the form of a €500,000 fine.
How all this ends up playing out remains to be seen, but it would be difficult to envision any scenario in which a social media giant with billions of cash in reserves could monitor millions upon millions of published posts every day.
Ten years or so ago, social media — then dubbed social networks — were online hubs for tech lovers and young persons. In time, the value of social media and an informational and promotional tool grew so significantly, members of all demographic groups started creating and communicating via social media. Billions of people are “wired” to social media platforms. These platforms are where they get a tremendous amount of their information.
The free flow of information makes it difficult for politicians and powerbrokers to control messaging. Yes, the dissemination of fake and harmful news is a problem. When the distribution of fake news is linked to cyberwars, the problem becomes even more ominous.
That said, concerns over totalitarian censorship of news governments disagree with should never be ignored. As history shows, the enacting of censorship laws never lead to good results.