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Global: Germany moves to make ‘fake news’ criminal offence

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Germany has formally proposed a law to fine social networks up to €50 million if they fail to remove harmful fake news and what it describes as “criminal content” from their platforms within 24 hours.

German justice and consumer protection minister Heiko Maas specified that criminal content included defamation, slander, threats and criminal misinformation.

Digiday reports that the German definition of unlawful content is a deliberately broad spectrum and could include everything from infringing intellectual property to altering facts to promote populism.

As part of the proposal, the platforms would also have to publish quarterly status reports, detailing how they handled complaints, how many they received and how their teams are staffed.

The government is optimistic that the bill will be passed before September, when Germany holds its general election. For the next few months, stakeholders, including the social platforms, can comment on the proposal.

If the bill is not passed by September, the process will begin again, potentially under new leadership. If this is passed, the minister plans to take it to the European Commission to propose a pan-European law, Digiday says.

Facebook introduces fact-checking

Facebook has started to implement fact checking on news articles to combat the spread of fake news. The new feature was promised in December as part of the Facebook Journalism Project.

A recent article headed “The Irish slave trade – The slaves that times forgot” was checked by third party organisations Snopes.com and The Associated Press. When users try to share the article, they receive a pop-up informing them that the article has been “disputed by multiple, independent fact checkers.”

CNN Digital hits jackpot with messaging app

Over the 12 months that CNN Digital has been experimenting with Japanese messaging app Line, it has grown its followers on the platform to 4.7 million, according to the company.

CNN Digital has been using different Line formats like Stickers, and testing new ways to develop breaking-news narratives through them.

Currently, the CNN Digital team publishes between six and 12 posts to Line a day but is gradually changing the bulk of its posts to video. “We’ve learned a lot about how to communicate with a messaging audience,” said Sam Barry, head of social media and emerging media at CNN Worldwide.

“And the countries in Asia where Line is popular — Korea, Taiwan and Japan — they have a massive appetite for video.”

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