The government of Germany has proposed the creation of a ‘Centre of Defense Against Disinformation’ to combat fake news and internet lies as the elections draw near, Deutsche Welle (DW) said, quoting a report by Der Spiegel magazine.
Looking ahead to Germany’s parliamentary elections next year, the creation of the centre should be negotiated very quickly, the magazine said, quoting an interior ministry note as saying.
The note is said to have named specific groups that are particularly susceptible or vulnerable to fake news. These groups include the Russian-Germans and people with Turkish origins.
An intensification of political education work should be carried out with those specific groups, the interior ministry recommended, urging all Germany’s political parties to agree not to use of social bots and fake news during campaigning.
The move comes after the government hinted at criminalising fake news by, among others, prosecuting anyone who produces, creates and disseminates fake news on its soil.
Refugee crisis-hit Germany has been on the offensive since fake news tore the US elections apart and handed outsider Donald Trump an unlikely victory on a silver plate at the expense of experienced Hillary Clinton.
Fake news websites, which were allegedly sponsored by Russia, demonised Clinton during the electoral campaign. They accused her of all sorts of sins and in the process damaged her credibility vis-à-vis the voters.
Outgoing US President Barack Obama later said fake news were undermining democracy.
Germany, which wants to avoid all kinds of interference in its elections, is thinking ahead and taking precautionary measures.
(DW/Agencies/Sifa News, additional reporting and final editing by Issa Sikiti)