Merkel Joins Chorus Warning Against Fake News

Another world leader is raising a red flag over fake news distributed via social media in the wake of Donald Trump’s upset victory over Hillary Clinton in the U.S. presidential election. On Wednesday, Germany’s powerful Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a speech to Germany’s Parliament blasting misinformation and lies masquerading as real news stories online, saying they pose a threat to democracy, according to The Local De.

Speaking to German legislators close on the heels of her announcement that she will run for a fourth term and seek to continue as chancellor, Merkel noted that the next election will take place in a fast-shifting media landscape: “Something has changed – as globalization has marched on, [political] debate is taking place in a completely new media environment. Opinions aren't formed the way they were 25 years ago.”

She went on: “Today we have fake sites, bots, trolls – things that regenerate themselves, reinforcing opinions with certain algorithms and we have to learn to deal with them.” The effort to combat fake news could certainly extend to legislative remedies, Merkel hinted, asserting, “we must confront this phenomenon and if necessary, regulate it.”

In Germany, the government is already taking measures to crack down on hate speech on social media, and Merkel warned that these trends are only set to increase, noting: “Populism and political extremes are growing in Western democracies.”

Merkel echoed comments made by President Obama in her presence during his visit to Germany a week ago. While not referring to Trump’s election specifically, Obama stated: “If we are not serious about the facts and what’s true and what’s not, particularly in the social media era when so many get information from sound bites and snippets off their phone, if we can’t discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have problems.”

Facebook and Google have tacitly acknowledged the need to crack down on fake news on the sites, with Facebook for example banning fake news publishers from the Facebook Audience Network, which allows advertisers to include sites from outside Facebook in their ad campaigns. Google took a similar action on its AdSense network.
3 comments about "Merkel Joins Chorus Warning Against Fake News".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, November 23, 2016 at 3:13 p.m.

    Fake news seems the best new definition for a "post hoc propter hoc" explanation. In this manner, fake news has become a scapegoat, or the next best alternative to admitting the real reason Trump won, that is, he won more electoral votes, without any blame falling on his opponent (or the leader of her party). 

  2. Chuck Lantz from, network replied, November 23, 2016 at 5:24 p.m.

    Winning more electoral results isn't a "reason." It's a result. And fake news could very likely be one of the reasons for that result.

    Or, as Hamilton warned in Federalist 68, which was quoted in these blogs just a day ago; "Low intrigue and the small arts of popularity" were very obviously in play.

  3. Chuck Lantz from, network, November 23, 2016 at 6:29 p.m.

    In an effort to practice what I preach, here's a correction.  I misquoted Hamilton.  That should have been "low intrigue and the little arts of popularity" and not "low intrigue and the small arts of popularity."

    There.  I feel much better now.

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