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Russia to copy German social media fines to fight 'fake news'

Shiggy

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Two State Duma deputies have introduced a proposal calling for multi-million ruble fines for publishing “false information” on social media.

The amendment by two members of the majority party United Russia proposes a fine of up to five million rubles ($83,000) for individuals and up to 50 million rubles ($830,000) for large corporations, the RBC news outlet reported Wednesday, citing a copy of the text.

In an explanatory note to the proposal seen by RBC, the authors said they were following in the footsteps of Germany.

They were likely referring to Germany’s Network Enforcement Act, which calls for hefty fines against social media companies that violate hate speech and false information rules.

Sergei Boyarsky, one of the authors of the Russian amendment, told RBC the law would target social media companies, not individual users.

“It will be up to the organizers of information dissemination to delete illegal information,” he said on Twitter.

Although still in a preliminary stage, Russian social media companies have reacted negatively to the proposed bill.

“The proposed measures are completely redundant and they are impossible to implement,” a spokesperson for the VKontakte social media platform, Yevgeny Krasnikov, told RBC.

Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki, Russia’s most popular social media websites, have argued there are already ways for users to flag disturbing or false content.

The RBC report did not specify who would be the judge of whether social media posts contain fake news, but it would likely be Russia’s communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor.

Recently, Roskomnadzor threatened to block the encrypted messaging service Telegram, arguing it was being used by terrorists.

Attempts to regulate the Internet in Russia are widely seen by critics as a way to encroach on freedom of speech and stifle online activity that is critical of the Kremlin.

https://themoscowtimes.com/news/united-russia-tries-to-fight-fake-news-58376


Reporters without Borders, which was one of the many German NGOs protesting against the German law, is furious now. They predicted this would happen, as autocratic states can now claim they are just doing the same as Germany. This will only lead to more control of social media in Russia.
 

The Albatross

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This is pretty unsettling since Russia is essentially the blueprint for the USA.

I hate the current president as much as the next guy, and also have a deep concern for Russia, but...... no, Russia is not the blueprint for the USA.

Russia does not have free press and it has been ruled by a single person for 15+ years, with rampant political and social assassinations and imprisonments. Russia does not have a modern economy with open enterprise, it's a petrostate where social infrastructure completely relies on the global price of petroleum for nearly all social services. Fox News might look like the American equivalent of Pravda for Trump, but there is no New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, ProPublica, or any other thousands of news institutions with independent integrity like there is in the United States. And as terrible as Fox News is it's more legitimate than the news sources in Russia, which are entirely controlled by the state. Even the "opposition news programs" in Russia are controlled by the state.

As far as Putin and Trump are both strong-men and may admire each other, sure, Putin may be Trump's wet dream as a blueprint for leadership. But let's remember, Trump is at a historically low approval rate now 6 months into his presidency, and his party is likely to lose considerable ground in 2 years. Meanwhile, while Trump has used executive action to turn back some Obama-era policies, for the most part Trump and his Republicans in congress have been unable to do anything. No significant bills have been put on the President's desk and the hallmark legislation that he and his party have railed against for 6 years, determined to rollback, is now still in effect and seemingly will continue to be for the forseeable future.

Meanwhile, in Russia, there is no opposition. The only presidential opposition in Russia can't legally run for office because of made up criminal charges, and those with criminal histories are barred from office. While Russia is an autocratic police state, Putin is still very popular, and it's not just made up popularity. His poll numbers and recent election performance is certainly over stated (for instance, regions Chechnya where Putin murdered tens of thousands of people still somehow had close to 100% approval rating for him), but he's still remarkably popular amongst Russians especially outside of Moscow or St. Petersburg (where he still enjoys high popularity, but just less so).
 

Shiggy

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Because Russia totally cares what people think and wouldn't have just done it anyway

wait

Well, now they can just brush off criticism from Western countries by pointing to Germany, where a similar law exists. And the two Russian members of parliament, who suggested such a law, already referred to the German law - so seems like that opportunity is very welcome.

Though most likely the law itself will not be as botched as the German - they'd need to try hard to fail there.
 

Souldriver

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Jan 8, 2006
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Because Russia totally cares what people think and wouldn't have just done it anyway

wait

Yeah, I also fail to see the problem here. As if Russia needed an excuse to crack down on free press. They've been poisoning journalists ffs.
 

Muffin1611

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Well, now they can just brush off criticism from Western countries by pointing to Germany, where a similar law exists. And the two Russian members of parliament, who suggested such a law, already referred to the German law - so seems like that opportunity is very welcome.

Though most likely the law itself will not be as botched as the German - they'd need to try hard to fail there.

Come on, Russia would do this anyway and in an actual malicious way unlike Germany regardless.

The RBC report did not specify who would be the judge of whether social media posts contain fake news, but it would likely be Russia's communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor.

Sure, leaving the communications watchdog of an autocratic state to judge fake news is totally the same as Germanys law. /s The latter is much more focused on hate speech and such if I recall correctly. Also leaves the possibility for platforms like YT and FB to band together and form an institution under a German bureau.
 

sphagnum

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This is pretty unsettling since Russia is essentially the blueprint for the USA.

SCOTUS would not allow it to happen since it's an infringement of free speech, and America loves its extreme free speech.

I was worried this would happen elsewhere though. It's a tricky situation to deal with, and it makes me uncertain of what the right approach is.
 
Jun 22, 2012
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The problem isn't the idea itself. The problem is the enforcement, where Germany has good intentions and Russia doesn't. I believe in Germany, whether it is deliberately false is determined by an independent judge/judiciary, and not a government appointed communications watchdog.

And this is why censorship laws of any kind are stupid.

We 'censor' libel and slander, and other attempts at lying. Posting other material that's deliberately false (keyword deliberate) to generate sharebait revenue is a practice that needs to be put an end to.
 

NYCmetsfan

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Apr 24, 2010
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The problem isn't the idea itself. The problem is the enforcement, where Germany has good intentions and Russia doesn't. I believe in Germany, whether it is deliberately false is determined by an independent judge/judiciary, and not a government appointed communications watchdog.



We 'censor' libel and slander, and other attempts at lying. Posting other material that's deliberately false (keyword deliberate) to generate sharebait revenue is a practice that needs to be put an end to.

You're first part of your post shows why this is a bad idea. Who gets to determine that? Who determines your intent. Some bureaucrat? A judge?
 
Jun 22, 2012
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You're first part of your post shows why this is a bad idea. Who gets to determine that? Who determines your intent. Some bureaucrat? A judge?

Yes, a judge. And it's easy to determine in many cases e.g. pizzagate. We already do this for libel laws, so it is not some new radical idea. It's an extension of a law/idea that already exists.
 

NYCmetsfan

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Apr 24, 2010
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Yes, a judge. And it's easy to determine in many cases e.g. pizzagate. We already do this for libel laws, so it is not some new radical idea. It's an extension of a law/idea that already exists.

libel laws are notorious complex, at least in the US.

the proliferation of easier to sue people for their speech is frighting.

Proving intent is not exactly something new.

For actions, for speech. Its pretty hard to prove.
 

Muffin1611

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libel laws are notorious complex, at least in the US.

the proliferation of easier to sue people for their speech is frighting.

You already can sue people for this stuff since decades in Germany. The current new law just introduces fines for platforms so unlawful stuff actually is removed in a timely fashion.
 

Oersted

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Mar 14, 2012
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Well, now they can just brush off criticism from Western countries by pointing to Germany, where a similar law exists. And the two Russian members of parliament, who suggested such a law, already referred to the German law - so seems like that opportunity is very welcome.

Though most likely the law itself will not be as botched as the German - they'd need to try hard to fail there.

Russia brushing off criticism with a "What about..." followed by an event in the Western world?

If there only would be a word for that.
 

sturgboski

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Nov 18, 2013
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Come on, Russia would do this anyway and in an actual malicious way unlike Germany regardless.



Sure, leaving the communications watchdog of an autocratic state to judge fake news is totally the same as Germanys law. /s The latter is much more focused on hate speech and such if I recall correctly. Also leaves the possibility for platforms like YT and FB to band together and form an institution under a German bureau.

The main issue isnt that they aren't the exact same, it's that Russia can now point to Germany and say "they have this too." It's what they have constantly been doing to make it seem like democracy is terrible until Trump came along and built that case for them with the whole "you think we are innocent" shit. Would Russia have done this anyway? Probably. But now they can point to these places who could shake their finger at them and say "well you are doing it too." Doesn't matter if it's not 100% like for like.
 

Muffin1611

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The main issue isnt that they aren't the exact same, it's that Russia can now point to Germany and say "they have this too." It's what they have constantly been doing to make it seem like democracy is terrible until Trump came along and built that case for them with the whole "you think we are innocent" shit. Would Russia have done this anyway? Probably. But now they can point to these places who could shake their finger at them and say "well you are doing it too." Doesn't matter if it's not 100% like for like.

This is a concern that is entirely laughable. Whataboutism isn't exactly a new tactic coming from Russia. Just because Germany is implementing a similar law with good intentions doesn't mean they can't criticize Russia anymore who's doing it with pretty clear authoritarian intentions. If Germany didn't have that law, Russia would find something else to use their whataboutism with instead.
 
Jun 22, 2012
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libel laws are notorious complex, at least in the US.

Yet we still have them and didn't get rid of them, because we as a society recognize intentionally lying to your personal advantage and to the detriment of others is morally wrong.

the proliferation of easier to sue people for their speech is frighting.

It's a law that's been on the book for decades, and we're talking about some of the most democratic and freest countries in the world.
 

cheezcake

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Feb 21, 2013
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This is a concern that is entirely laughable. Whataboutism isn't exactly a new tactic coming from Russia. Just because Germany is implementing a similar law with good intentions doesn't mean they can't criticize Russia anymore who's doing it with pretty clear authoritarian intentions. If Germany didn't have that law, Russia would find something else to use their whataboutism with instead.

It's not. We need to fundamentally understand how Putin has operated within Russia to see why this is a problem. Here's a thing I don't think most of GAF understands, Russia in not an autocracy, it is not a totalitarian state. It is very much an authoritarian state but Putin does not have absolute power, it's more accurate to see him as a mediator among the Russian oligarchy who themselves control policy which should be democratically decided.

I'm going to borrow a little bit from a Quora discussion here, from someone who spent most of their life in Russia.

You also have very significant freedom to criticize the government and suggest all kinds of visions for country - in the USSR there was just the future of communism and you couldn't criticise the party. In the Russian Federation you can complain all you want about corruption, bad roads, education, healthcare, pensions, almost everything. You could also do it in the media, even though you'll compete for time with friends and fans of the Kremlin which will explain how Russia is #1.

There is however things that you cannot criticize Putin in public for:

his North Caucasus policy, especially the regime in Chechnya.
the conduct of the military
the war with Georgia
the annexation of Crimea
the ongoing hybrid war with Ukraine
his Syrian adventure
If you are a journalist or a defected official - you'll likely be killed if you challenge him on these topics, and these topics only (Most prominently: Anna Politkovskaya and Alexander Litvinenko, Boris Nemtsov ).

How does this work? How does Putin maintain his very real sky-high popularity in Russia while murdering journalists who question his military decisions and jailing opposition?

The answer is really simple.

1. A huge chunk of Russians state that their quality of life has improved under Putin (not unsurprising considering the economic growth).

2. In most regards, Russians are quite free and the media is actually (BY DESIGN) quite unbiased except in key issues. When those key issues arrive Putin can control the narrative and the public will, at large, trust it because most of the time the media is actually unbiased.

But of course not everyone swallows the kool-aid when people are getting killed for questioning the narrative. It would be far more effective if instead Putin had the ability to control social media and other non-state sponsored news, it's more subtle, and much cleaner, breeds less dissent.

So then why is it important that Germany first implemented these laws? Because the Russian people believe, at large, they are living in a mostly free society. Putin needs to make sure they continue to feel that way. If he made a sudden move to control non-state media that only breeds more dissent, it looks totalitarian because it is. Because Germany has done it first, a chunk of the Russian people now feel as if they are just mirroring the steps taken by another democratic country. And as long as the Russian public feels as if they are living in a free society, it's unlikely Putin's popularity will waver. And as long as he has the support of the public and the oligarchy, he stays in power.
 

Muffin1611

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You're really overstating the importance of this single move by Germany. If Germany hadn't voted for this law, Russia would just have said "But Germany already has laws against hate speech and such, we're just doing the same with the internet!".

That's the "great" thing about whataboutism, you can use it with almost anything.

It wouldn't have made a significant difference to the Russian public the way I described it. As you say, Putin can control media when he deems it necessary.
 

cheezcake

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You're really overstating the importance of this single move by Germany. If Germany hadn't voted for this law, Russia would just have said "But Germany already has laws against hate speech and such, we're just doing the same with the internet!".

This is not how Putin has traditionally operated and for good reason. The link has to be strong and direct otherwise the grab for power is too apparent and the public becomes uneasy.

It wouldn't have made a significant difference to the Russian public the way I described it. As you say, Putin can control media when he deems it necessary.

1. It's not about significant differences, it's about tipping the balance.

2. Putin only controls state-sponsored media and Russians still have access to the internet. Now external sources can criticise this as a power grab but the media can dismiss it as Germany did the 'exact same thing' and to a portion of the public this will seem more than reasonable, because remember, they like Putin.

You can of course make the argument that fuck Russia, it's more important that we sort stuff out in our systems before we worry about how Putin will use this to his advantage at his home. But that's a different argument. You can't logically discount that this plays perfectly for Putin as an excuse to get more control of media sources in Russia while being able to plausibly maintain the view that it's a free state.
 

Shauni

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It should be easy to frame the difference as Russia doing this to news they don't like, and Germany doing it to stop literal news that is fucking fake, like PizzaGate and shit like that.

I don't know why we're defining ourselves against dictatorships as to why we base our laws.
 

michaelius

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The problem isn't the idea itself. The problem is the enforcement, where Germany has good intentions and Russia doesn't. I believe in Germany, whether it is deliberately false is determined by an independent judge/judiciary, and not a government appointed communications watchdog.

That's why politicians should never be given access to tools like this even when they promise best intentions.

Most people will not protest when country builds firewall to block pedophile sites - but a tool made for that can be easily reconfigured to also cover politician opposition in the future.
 

felipeko

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Feb 2, 2007
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Um, no. Cases still go to judges to decide, Facebook and co. just now have an obligation to look out for clear violations to delete.
I can't be sure from your post, does Facebook has to take action before or after a judge decides?
What i took from the law, is that they have 24 hours-1 week to delete content, that does not seem to take into account a judge deciding beforehand.
The problem isn't the idea itself. The problem is the enforcement, where Germany has good intentions and Russia doesn't. I believe in Germany, whether it is deliberately false is determined by an independent judge/judiciary, and not a government appointed communications watchdog.
I'm pretty sure the Germany law also doesn't get enforced by a independent judge, but by corporations, and what the executive branch will try to hold them accountable to. That's why it is a bad law.
 
Jun 22, 2012
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That's why politicians should never be given access to tools like this even when they promise best intentions.

Most people will not protest when country builds firewall to block pedophile sites - but a tool made for that can be easily reconfigured to also cover politician opposition in the future.

Not really. These laws have existed for more than half a century and this apocalyptic scenario has come nowhere close to occurring. The information has to be false, and it needs to proven that the person knew it was false, and it was in their advantage to lie. This is a very high bar to set, you can't just use it on any political opposition (unless that opposition thrives off false information, well, then, nothing of value was lost).

At the low low cost of preventing people from being able to speak the truth.

lol
 

Muffin1611

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I can't be sure from your post, does Facebook has to take action before or after a judge decides?
What i took from the law, is that they have 24 hours-1 week to delete content, that does not seem to take into account a judge deciding beforehand.

I'm pretty sure the Germany law also doesn't get enforced by a independent judge, but by corporations, and what the executive branch will try to hold them accountable to. That's why it is a bad law.

The platforms either have to fill a position in their company to coordinate with the government about deletions or can all together form an institution that operates under the German judiciary bureau (I forgot it's exact name something like that). So it's not completely up to the corporations. The latter option is to prevent Facebook and co. just deleting anything being close to an offense.

Times to deletion vary by clarity of the offense, so complex cases have more time to be coordinated with judges and such I think. If an offense is unclear, I imagine it gets the go-ahead for remaining on the site for the time being or is deleted and restored in case of the offender winning the case. Something along those lines, I'm pretty sure judges are involved.
 
Jul 25, 2014
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It should be easy to frame the difference as Russia doing this to news they don't like, and Germany doing it to stop literal news that is fucking fake, like PizzaGate and shit like that.

Say whatever you will about PizzaGate being the dumbest thing ever but a friend sent this to me a couple months back and it got an eyebrow raised out of me. Ignore the YouTube comments (as you always should).
https://youtu.be/-GZFHLAcG8A
 

felipeko

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The platforms either have to fill a position in their company to coordinate with the government about deletions or can all together form an institution that operates under the German judiciary bureau (I forgot it's exact name something like that).

Times to deletion vary by clarity of the offense, so complex cases have more time to be coordinated with judges and such I think. If an offense is unclear, I imagine it gets the go-ahead for remaining on the site for the time being or is deleted and restored in case of the offender winning the case. Something along those lines, I'm pretty sure judges are involved.
From NYT
It will require companies including Facebook, Twitter and Google, which owns YouTube, to remove any content that is illegal in Germany — such as Nazi symbols or Holocaust denial — within 24 hours of it being brought to their attention.

The law allows for up to seven days for the companies to decide on content that has been flagged as offensive, but that may not be clearly defamatory or inciting violence. Companies that persistently fail to address complaints by taking too long to delete illegal content face fines that start at 5 million euros, or $5.7 million, and could rise to as much as €50 million.
It does not appear that a Judge is involved. Corporations will be responsible for what to delete or not, and be fined if they don't comply with whatever the executive think it is right. Then it goes to the judge to decide if the fine is correct or not. It does appear that it is easier to just censor more than not if you do not want to be fined.
 

Muffin1611

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From NYT

It does not appear that a Judge is involved. Corporations will be responsible for what to delete or not, and be fined if they don't comply with whatever the executive think it is right. Then it goes to the judge to decide if the fine is correct or not. It does appear that it is easier to just censor more than not if you do not want to be fined.

As I said, therefore is the option to form an institution for that. Which NYT doesnt mention. I still remember that from the last time we had a thread about this and its from Spiegel articles and the actual law documents itself.

Edit: http://neogaf.com/showthread.php?t=1399461

Here is the thread, cant link any specific being on mobile right now
 
Jun 22, 2012
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Not a priority of yours, obviously.

No, I just know the conversation won't be productive when I'm talking to someone who thinks slander and libel is "speaking the truth". We are not even working with the same definitions.

Even Ayn Rand knew that fraud is wrong and should be punished.
 

JoeyJungle

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Meanwhile, in Russia, there is no opposition. The only presidential opposition in Russia can't legally run for office because of made up criminal charges, and those with criminal histories are barred from office. While Russia is an autocratic police state, Putin is still very popular, and it's not just made up popularity. His poll numbers and recent election performance is certainly over stated (for instance, regions Chechnya where Putin murdered tens of thousands of people still somehow had close to 100% approval rating for him), but he's still remarkably popular amongst Russians especially outside of Moscow or St. Petersburg (where he still enjoys high popularity, but just less so).

My understanding is that Chechnya has its own Islamic government that's extremely anti-homophobic. Because the Russian government is already very homophobic and doesn't really care about human rights at all, Putin turns a blind eye to the gay purge in Chechnya, but isn't directly involved in it.
 

KahooTs

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Feb 13, 2016
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No, I just know the conversation won't be productive when I'm talking to someone who thinks slander and libel is "speaking the truth".
Slander and libel as determined by western courts has been on occasion the truth. By these laws people have been punished by the courts for speaking the truth, hidden truth that took a great deal to find and then courage to speak.
 

SolarPowered

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Feb 17, 2009
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Because Russia totally cares what people think and wouldn't have just done it anyway

wait
Destroyed from the first post. People may as well get pissed at Japan and the UK for their more extreme gun control measures while they're at it.

Dictatorships playing whataboutisms shouldn't be an excuse to stop self improvement measures in first world countries even if it's about controversial issues like fake news.
 

KahooTs

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Do you have any examples of this?
A bizarre faith you have in the law to be forever correct. The Armstrong case is a good example especially because the reason which Emma O'Reilly came forward. Men were dying, she wanted to stop it, the law punished those who printed her word by verdict and prevented her from continuing to speak the truth through the cost of defending against litigation.