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Fake News: Deciding What Is Fake News Is NOT A Task For The Public Authorities

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Wed, 23 May 2018 11:18:42 Z)

Is deciding what is fake news and what is not a public task for the public authorities? No, that's not true. Only in undemocratic regimes without a free press is it the task of the public authorities to decide what is fake news and what is not. The statement that it should fall to the authorities to do this came from a tweet posted by Guy Verhofstadt in the wake of the hearing of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg by the European Parliament on May 22, 2018.

The tweet was published on May 22, 2018 by Guy Verhofstadt's official Twitter account and we archived it here here. The full text read:

"This brave new world of Mr #Zuckerberg in which tens of thousands of #Facebook employees decide what is fake news and what is not, scares me. This is a public task for the public authorities."

Guy Verhofstadt is a MEP in the European Parliament and leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE).

Screenshot of https://twitter.com/guyverhofstadt/status/998984519406555136

Let's fact check his statement:

  • I'm a European citizen
  • I'm not part of the "public authorities"
  • I've been making decisions about labeling things "fake news" on a daily basis since 2016
  • And I'm proudly doing it again right now by labeling Mr. Verhofstadt's tweet "Fake News"
  • I will keep doing it until they pull this keyboard "from my cold, dead hands"

So clearly this is a task that ordinary citizens can and should be doing.

I rate Guy Verhofstadt's claim false.

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About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk
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