It seems that the proactive stance of the government has pushed Facebook to finally address the proliferation of false and inflammatory content in its network. Facebook has announced that there is a tool designed to combat fake news and it will be tested in Germany.
Why Germany? The decision to choose Germany as the first test location was not based on chance. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO and some of his cohorts were being investigated in Germany since November for allowing fake news and hate speech to spread rapidly in the social media platform. Laws on Germany are harsher compared to the United States. Facebook has been warned by Germany’s Federal Justice Ministry and Consumer Protection that there is punishment for defamation in the country.
Facebook must have hurried to develop a fake news tools for Germany considering that federal election is scheduled for this year. According to BuzzFeed, there is already fake news about German Chancellor Angela Merkel disseminated by some Facebook pages. If the role of fake content in Facebook in the recent US elections is any indication, Facebook has certainly a reason to be concerned.
If Facebook continues to be used as a tool to undermine the reputation of a candidate, it will expose the social media company including its executives to lawsuits and regulatory investigations. At the moment, Germany is thinking of passing a law that will penalize organizations with huge fines if they fail to act on fake news that is published on their site.
The fake news tool which was already confirmed in a Financial Times report will include a filtering process composed of user reports, third party fact-checkers and Facebook’s prioritization action on the flagged fake information. Meanwhile, Facebook is still working on some of the challenges entailed before the tool is launched globally.
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