Germany isn’t happy with Facebook about its “fake news” problem — and politicians are considering fining it a whopping €500,000 (£420,000) for each offending post it fails to take down within 24 hours.
In an interview with German-language magazine Der Spiegel (which we heard about through DW), Thomas Oppermann — the parliamentary chairman of the SPD, a major opposition political party — said the social network should face sanctions if it doesn’t tackle false news stories circulating on its platform.
Facebook has faced intense criticism in recent weeks over the issue of “fake news.” Critics argue that the social network is aiding the spread of misinformation, with wildly inaccurate stories racking up hundreds of thousands of shares, often outperforming legitimate stories. There has even been speculation as to whether the spread of fake news played a role in the shock election of Donald Trump in the US presidential election in November.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg was initially dismissive of the problem, saying it was “crazy” to suggest it could have influenced the election. But since then, the social network has promised to do more, including a plan to roll out a fact-checking feature that would inform users if an article they are sharing is believed to be wrong.
But Oppermann wants to see Facebook hit with punitive punishments if posts are not deleted promptly. “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,” he said.
The German government is also planning to introduce new measures. Volker Kauder, a member of the ruling Christian Democrats (CDU), said, according to DW: “There has been only talk for too long. Now we in the coalition will take action at the beginning of next year.”
He added: “We plan to impose high penalties that would affect companies like Facebook if they do not meet their responsibilities.”
The rules would apply to both fake news and “hate speech,” and would require Facebook to build a 24/7/365 office in Germany to handle takedown demands.