When are we going to stop striving for some utopian perfection that is not there and instead realize/accept that most codified valuation have a conjugate trade off that can't be messaged away.
I know I'm not saying anything interesting here, but it bears repeating, there is probably no set of laws that (1) has strong protections put in place to resist abuse (2) is going to truly champion free speech and (3) still have real world protections against fake news that can't be easily circumvented.
What's the difference between a interest-group paid authoritatively-toned opinion-piece and fake news? How much of the former are you willing to nondiscriminatory censor to ensure squashing the later? What is the social/economic blow-black for that censorship?
Said another way, at what point does omitting facts become misrepresentation? And how many people's livelihoods are you willing to bet on the quality of your distinction?
When it comes to fake news, I'm as disgusted as the next person, but not every misuse of free speech deserves the special legislation that we grant to hate speech.
It's basically going to prove impossible to find a definition of 'fake news' that everyone is happy with. It can't just be 'Anything that some political group does not approve of' for instance, and it must be neither too broad (including all sorts of innocent publications, like tabloids mentioned earlier, foreign or historical propaganda, advertising that criticises its competitors, etc.) making it impossible to enforce, or narrow (fail to include certain categories of fakery) thus allowing loopholes and failing to accomplish anything.
But ... I think there are pretty good laws in place at the moment to deal with slander, libel, defamation and generally saying (or publishing) untrue things about people (or companies, entire groups of people defined by some shared attribute, locations, etc.) in a way that harms them (materially, or emotionally, maybe just potentially), and they actually deal with the situation where the intent is humour or parody. Too much of the time people have this knee-jerk reaction to X, something happening on the Internet, where they decide that the Internet-relatedness of this X makes it special (despite it being simply the age old problem of Y, but on the Internet) and demand a new crime of 'X' be created with incredibly harsh penalties like life in prison or death or billion dollar fines. But in general, it would suffice to continue to prosecute people for Y, just making sure that the Y-on-the-Internet cases also get looked at and prosecuted equally. I have no real problem with adding 'but on the Internet' as a qualifier to exiting crimes, in the same way as 'with a firearm' or 'while intoxicated' get tacked on as modifiers, increasing prison time and fines as appropriate, but this is almost never put forward as a suggestion.
So maybe we just need 'Libel, but on the Internet' to be prosecuted more often? Meh...
Showing that something is done purposefully and knowingly instead of negligently and recklessly is hard. It limits the practical enforcement even in the existing false reporting statutes.
Freedom of speech protects strongly from prior restraint (aka pre-publication censorship) and allows people and media to say anything, but there can be legal consequences in many cases. There are the "yelling fire in the crowded movie theater" type cases that lead to convictions when someone has been instigating panic, riots or violence in the social media.
Something like "the migrant caravan" can be safely used as a false news because the news is technically true, it's just exaggerated beyond any reason.
Proper journalism relies on anonymous sources and sometimes journalists are duped when they report something not checked from multiple sources. Legal risk from doing your work would make live unnecessarily difficult.
And given that a lot of media outlets also make mistakes, well it feels like such a situation would basically just make anyone publishing anything absolutely paranoid about ever being 'wrong', which wouldn't really make things any better.
I don't believe Jones himself does, but maybe some contributors do. However: (some of) the audience definitely believes it. When they reproduce it, they do so with the best intentions.
I agree regarding mistakes - otoh, being paranoid about making mistakes might be a good thing in today's media. Public shaming (by their competitors) isn't happening / working, that might be a good side effect.
That goes for murders just as well, it’s not an argument against fake news or murder being criminal.
I'm not convinced that this would be legal.
As an example: let's assume someone is in a theater and has a lighter. They flick the lighter on, so that there is a flame. You them scream "FIRE!!! EVERYONE OUT!!!" Let's also assume that people follow the direction (a key point, which now fulfills insighting undo panic).
Would you be arrested, or at minimum fined? I believe so. The key phrase being "beyond any reason". But clearly this can be much more nuanced than the example given above.
Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer
There's your problem. If you were both unbiased, I would assume that you both went back to your news sources and found out which one was misleading. Then whoever was relying on the unreliable news source, changed their news source. They shared that info with other people, and that unreliable new source is now out of business.
Since it's a pretty safe bet that such a thing did not happen, it should be obvious that you're the problem. Personally I could not fathom accepting any news organization's account of any topic as unbiased and complete. For most of those stories, I don't care, they don't affect my opinions. But for things that do matter, I deliberately seek out opposing opinions and see if they can make a convincing argument.
1. As said, how do you prove intent? Everyone is wrong about something, and some people are literally insane. Any attempt to prove it beyond the most obvious cases (aka admissions of lying/trolling) would be exceedingly difficult, likely catch out many otherwise legitimate media outlets and end up basically punishing people for making mistakes/being dumb/being insane.
2. Who determines what's fake and how do they do it? Any censoring system is ripe for abuse, and will be co-opted by political fanatics to 'punish' the other side at the earliest opportunity. Don't think many people would trust the Trump administration to make this sort of judgement. Nor would anyone sane trust any sort of government institution.
3. Even if you do somehow get a neutral third party, you get into the question of what counts as 'fake news'. Satire is obviously fine, but pretty much every site classed as 'fake news' now claims to be writing satire.
So you then get stuck trying to decide what can 'legitimately' be called satire and how that should be identified. Do you need a giant label on every satirical article now?
You also get stuck in heavily contentious areas where the 'truth' isn't exactly some obvious thing that all sides have agreed on. There's a pretty big spectrum between saying something that's objectively false (like, the Earth is flat) and something extremely contentious (X religion/belief is right, here's a explanation of the causes behind the Arab Israeli conflict, etc).
Some stuff is so heavily debated that people could give you a dozen studies, anecodes and case studies for any argument you want.
Either way, it just seems like a bad idea that has the potential to cause more problems that it solves.
i wonder if there can be some kind of (potentially algorithmic) metric that tells us how much of an article is unsubstantiated? we already have opinion pieces and editorials as categories. can we use such categorizations to indicate some measure of trustworthiness of a given article?
Comments echoing the author's sentiment here are all over the NYT story concerning the fake "Russian Disinfo Campaign" for Roy Moore orchestrated by the friendly-sounding "Democracy Integrity Project" which broke 1 month ago:
* teach critical thinking and how to compare sources
* promote news organizations that are funded by individual donations or subscriptions (for instance, The Guardian).
I want to say "good plan", but turning everybody into journalists defeats the idea of specialization. We do regulate how to build houses so that you don't need to become an architect, structural engineer, masonry expert etc to judge whether those you paid to do the job did it well.
If you really go deep, you'd need to become a medium expert on lots of topics to judge the accuracy of an article. That doesn't sound feasible.
The government promoting certain news organizations does sound like a bad idea to me. And are there even many that don't have any ads? The Guardian certainly has, and they sell user data.
"I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" -Alternatively attributed to Patrick Henry, Voltaire, and Evelyn Beatrice Hall
Besides... who gets to determine what fake news is, what if they're wrong, and what happens when they decide that fake news is real news, and real news is the fake news?
Teaching people critical thinking skills, one by one, while respecting everyone else's right to believe and say what they want, while difficult, is the far more virtuous path...
Also... Freedom of Religion implies Freedom of Belief...
Oh, almost forgot... Asking for criminalization of Fake News is exactly functionally equivalent to Censorship.
Censorship has quite the history... The Roman Empire practiced it, the historic Catholic Church practiced it, and the Chinese Government practices it today.
If history is to be believed, Censorship is far worse than Fake News...
So if someone labels something as news and I investigate it and discover that it isn't true, I could sue them for misinforming me.
Also I wasn't necessarily suggesting it's actionable today but that maybe "tortious misinformation" should be.
Sex abuse is clear, it causes damage to a person in a similar way if you assaulted them physically. Costs of therapy, medication and damages due to the loss of enjoyment of life can be clearly presented.
I can't believe there are people advocating for government censorship. So we are okay with Trump shutting down CNN? And then in 2 or 6 years when another government comes into power, they'll shut down their version of fake news?