The German government is pushing to pass a law that will see Facebook and other social media firms paying hefty fines if they fail to address fake news that is making the rounds, within 24 hours. The law will also allow victims of false content and hate messages to contact the platform to seek for action to be taken.

Legal protection unit for fake story victims

German Social Democratic Party Chair Thomas Oppermann recently announced that the government is proposing a law that will require Facebook and other market-dominating platforms to dedicate a legal protection unit in Germany for people affected by the fake stories. These offices will allow them to respond faster to complaints against defamation and false content.

"If, after appropriate examination, Facebook does not delete the offending message within 24 hours, it should expect individual fines of up to €500,000 (P25.96 million)," Oppermann was quoted in an interview with Der Spiegel, which was translated by Deusche Well.

Facebook addresses issue of fake news

In response the Mark Zuckerberg-led firm issued a statement to Ars Technica saying they are currently engaging with all the people and parties interested in this matter. The company reiterated the steps it has already undertaken to improve its system including the adding of several new functions that address the issue of fake news and hoaxes.

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The company had recently vowed to outsource fact checking as part of their move to address the rise of fake news in the US. Through this function, users will be able to report fake news posts when they pop up in their news feeds, while algorithms work to flag hoax stories that could go viral. Once a story is flagged, it can neither be made into an ad nor promoted. Disputed stories may also appear lower in the news feed.

National elections

The proposed law received plenty of support from other major party in German politics, amid fears that misleading or malicious content could affect the national elections in 2017, just as it may have done in the US, when thousands of leaked emails of key aides to Hillary Clinton made the rounds on social media. Recent reports claimed the Moscow intelligence was behind it and as well as the hacking of the Democratic National Convention in July.

What do you think of the proposed law of the German government to penalize Facebook and other social media platforms for uncontrolled fake news and hate messages? Let us know in the comments section below.