It seems that proactive government scrutiny is what will prompt Facebook to finally address the proliferation of fake and incendiary content in its network. The social media platform announced that a tool designed to combat fake news will now get tested in Germany.
Why Choose Germany?
The decision to choose the European country as the first test location was not made by chance. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, and a number of his cohorts have been under investigation in Germany since November for the charge that they have allowed hate speech to proliferate in Facebook.
There is also the threat of prosecution indicated in the latest pronouncements issued out of Germany's Federal Justice Ministry and Consumer Protection. Facebook has been warned about fake news along with the reminder that punishment for defamation is harsher in the country than in the United States.
With the proliferation of fake news and hate speech in social media, Germany is increasingly concerned about its role in the incidence of xenophobia and racism in the country.
Facebook And Germany's Federal Election
It also makes sense to say that Facebook must have scrambled to develop the fake news tool for Germany because federal election will be held there this year. According to BuzzFeed, pages in Facebook are already disseminating fake stories about German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
If the role of fake content in Facebook at the recent U.S. presidential election is any indication, Facebook will most assuredly have cause for concern.
Getting used as a tool to undermine a candidate's reputation will certainly expose the social media company and its leadership to lawsuit and regulatory investigation. Germany is also currently mulling the passage of a law that will slap organizations with huge fines if they fail to act on fake news published in their website.
More About Facebook's Fake News Tool
Facebook's fake news tool, which was already confirmed in a Financial Times report, involves a filtering process composed of user reports, third-party fact-checkers, and Facebook's own prioritization action of the flagged fake information.
The tool's expansion to other countries is not yet certain at this point. However, in a statement released by the Facebook newsroom, the company stated that it is still working on the challenges entailed and sees a global rollout once those are addressed.
The United Kingdom has taken a page from Germany's experience. Government officials are hauling executives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter in an investigation to determine the possibility that fake news in social media undermine democracy.