Fake News, Fake Opinions

As Facebook, Google, and other mega-media outlets join the U.S. government in cracking down on “fake news”, the German government is going them one better: it’s cracking down on “fake opinions”.

The following brief video clip shows remarks given by Michael Grosse-Brömer, the director of the Christian Democratic fraction in the Bundestag, last night (Sunday Dec 18) speaking on the talk show “Berlin Direkt”. Notice that the proposed new law specifically aims to correct “wrong opinions” — not just mistakes in fact, but the holding of disapproved opinions about those facts.

Many thanks to Egri Nök for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:


00:00   Well, indeed we face new challenges. We have to acknowledge,
00:04   supported by the insights of journalists, scientists, and intelligence services, too:
00:08   There are a lot of people on the internet who want to destabilize,
00:12   who want to spread wrong opinions, who want to manipulate,
00:15   and politics must deal with that; especially before election campaigns.
00:19   One thing is certain: if you cannot rely on the information
00:23   that is the basis for your voting decision, if that is being manipulated,
00:26   then ultimately democracy is in danger, and we must resist that, as politicians.
00:31   First, we must raise awareness of this problem,
00:35   and we must develop new strategies, in cooperation with others, to address the problem.

14 thoughts on “Fake News, Fake Opinions

  1. You know, I had to listen to that twice in order to understand that this man is actually condoning a ban on spreading “wrong opinions”.
    This is terribly dangerous and, I don’t think this man actually understands the gravity of his statement.
    For a country that went through the Nazi era that is truly amazing. The only antidote to wrong speech is more speech. Suppression of speech just drives it underground and makes it more lethal.
    Speech is like water. It will find a pathway whether you like it or not.

    • It is amazing indeed. I can’t help but wonder about the fact that so many former high ranking DDR officials now hold decisive positions in Germany. I grew up in Western Germany, and from high school (Gymnasium) I remember how my teachers were very suspicious of freedom of speech, and sympathetic towards the DDR.

  2. Pretty much all dictatorships have a “false news” law, used to persecute journos that don’t fall in line.

    I don’t really see the difference between “fake news” and “false news”.

  3. Without contradicting opinions there is no real discussion about anything. Banning “wrong” opinions is essentially same as banning discussion. They can’t seriously believe, people will just accept whatever the ruling elite dictates. How can opinions even be wrong? After all, they are just opinions. This path leads to restricting how to think and dumbing down people. Human minds need to be free.

  4. It’s official, I’m leaving Germany as soon as possible, I don’t want my children to live in this mire of lunacy.

  5. Those people are hopeless and scary. Within no time we’d find ourselves under a totalitarian regime “for our own good.”

  6. Oh, the exquisite irony! The German High Command are to give their own Swinish Multitude, *Correct Opinions* to cogitate: just in case they Opine Incorrectly.
    The insufferable arrogance, insanity, and grandiosity of these Political Locusts beggars belief! Welcome to 1984! or is it 1933?? Dr Goebbels would be so proud…

  7. Aargh! There is no democracy unless “wrong” opinions are allowed. The totalitarianism increasingly manifested on the left is a major danger to our free societies.

  8. The purpose of censorship is not to suppress all information, which is impossible. The purpose of censorship is to prevent information and opinions contrary to the government’s view from gaining political benefit. Thus, in the USSR, the use of Samizdat was common and well-known; however, anyone actually speaking of the corruption and inefficiency of the the government and the suppression of freedom was ostracized and imprisoned. Everyone knew of the rot and corruption, but no one could discuss it.

    The term “fake news” is simply another slant on the thesis that whatever your views or opinions, there is a sharp boundary on what it is acceptable to actually discuss. The Democrats and neocons are putting into place a mechanism to control the actual discussion of events. It will be a strong administration that avoids the temptation to use the mechanism when things get tough. It’s exactly like the powers of the federal reserve to print money. In theory, the supply of money should remain roughly stable and predictable; in practice,when a recession hits and political pressures to do something, anything mount, it’s very difficult to ignore the pressures and allow the economy the few months it would take to work out the problems on its own.

    My guess is, the strategy of the realistic Democrats now is to form an alliance with the neocons, give the Trump administration all the victories it wants on the non-essential points: jobs, trade, protection, build-up of the military. The Trump administration will be able to have all these triumphs at only the expense of its one essential point that won the election: immigration.

    If the Trump administration does not resist the siren song of multiple, secondary victories and talking points at the expense of the one real issue, the Democrats and neocons will be building up the mechanism of opinion suppression of the internet, and also will be bringing in more third-world, welfare-dependent immigrants. In 4 or 8 years, demographics will win, the Democrats will be in power for good, and the mechanisms for opinion-suppression will be put into gear.

    In my opinion, it is a huge mistake to try to use the government to force Facebook and Google to carry all opinions, even ones they oppose. This is directly conceding the right of government to intervene in private media conglomerates, and will come back to bite us once the current administration has left. Instead, the US government should reassert control over the internet allocation of IP addresses (just tell the UN agency to bug off), and allow the development of alternative communication channels. It may take a few months, or a few years, to develop alternative channels that are satisfactory, but the precedence of true freedom of communication and enterprise will have been established.

  9. Sad and I’m glad that I live in America with our tradition of free speech and the First Amendment to protect it. If Hillary had been elected I would have worried about this precious right, especially after she threatened to shut down conservative and alt media like Brightbart, infowars, ect. With Trump elected I’m not so worried but we must all stand guard no matter who is in power. Freedom is fragile!

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