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German Politician Plans To Introduce Bill to Fine Facebook For Every Fake News

(Credit: David Ramos / Stringer) German politician Thomas Opperman has threatened to fine Facebook up to €500,000 for every fake news on the platform. This came after Mark Zuckerberg announced the company's plans of building a more informed community, providing changes such as a simple way to flag articles that users think could be fake.Mark Zuckerberg attendes Mobile World Congress 2015
December 21
6:20 AM 2016

Thomas Opperman, the chief of the Social Democrat Party said that he would introduce a bill next year in relation to the problem on fake news scandals plaguing Facebook. The Social Democrat Party is Germany's second-biggest political party. It suggested levying hefty fine up to €500,000 for posts of fake news or hate speech that are not removed within 24 hours.

This proposal is in response to the mounting fears that disinformation could influence the country's upcoming Bundestag elections in 2017. This follows reports claiming that misleading articles have affected the result of the recent U.S. election.

The head of the party threatened to fine Facebook if, even after appropriate examination, Facebook does not delete the offending post within 24 hours.

"Facebook has not used the opportunity to effectively regulate the issue of complaint management itself," he added. So he now wants to "legally oblige market-leading platforms such as Facebook to set up a legal protection centre that is accessible 365 days a year in Germany," Opperman said.

The office would be responsible for removing defamatory, false and offensive content.

The proposal of Opperman has received the support of the leading Christian Democratic Union.

Facebook has stated that it will introduce tools to prevent fake news and hoaxes from spreading. With the planned changes, users will be able to flag stories which they think could be fake. Then the company will fact check alongside organizations such as Snopes.

Last week, Mark Zuckerberg, through a Facebook post, said that he outlined some projects "to build a more informed community and fight misinformation."

"We have a responsibility to make sure Facebook has the greatest positive impact on the world. This update is just one of many steps forward, and there will be more work beyond this," he said.

"Facebook is a new kind of platform different from anything before it. I think of Facebook as a technology company, but I recognize we have a greater responsibility than just building technology that information flows through. While we don't write the news stories you read and share, we also recognize we're more than just a distributor of news. We're a new kind of platform for public discourse -- and that means we have a new kind of responsibility to enable people to have the most meaningful conversations, and to build a space where people can be informed," he furthered.

Under the changes the company plans, stories proven to be a hoax will be flagged, saying it has been disputed. The story will then be less likely to show up in News Feed. Users may still be able to read and share the story, but they will be provided with more information of whether the third-party fact checkers believe it is accurate. Once flagged, it cannot also be boosted with a paid-for promotion.

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