Alec Rooney, News Editor
What exactly is “fake news,” anyway?
It could be a satirical comedy piece in The Onion or Babylon Bee. It could be a New York Times story that asserts Donald Trump colluded with the Russians, or a PBS reporter saying Trump is a racist.
It could be an opinion piece saying God doesn’t exist. It could be another piece saying God DOES exist.
It could be a novel, a play, a meme, a celebrity gossip piece. What’s “fake” to one person may not be to another. It is just information: words and pictures that can be confirmed or refuted.
There is no gold standard of “news” that is “fake” or “authentic.” Authentic news sources usually take pains to attribute and source their stories, check their facts, maintain standards. They want to prove their credibility. Others aren’t so worried about it. There’s a market for both products, in the marketplace of ideas.
That is, it’s all open for debate. May the best ideas win. That’s the nature of ideas, and why all ideas, even the weird or unpopular ones, must be allowed to live, be spoken, be compared, be validated or invalidated.
When anyone tries to declare words and information too “fake” to be allowed to be spoken, watch out. Let those who hear them be the judges of that!
Yet that is what Germany is apparently now doing to Gab, a conservative-leaning social media site, using that country’s Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG).
Also known very interestingly as the Facebook Act, the NetzDG “is aimed at combating agitation and fake news in social networks,” according to Wikipedia. Germany’s Bundestag passed the law in June of 2017.
Now, according to Gab CEO and founder Andrew Torba, Germany is coming after this social media platform that has become popular with conservatives. Facebook and Twitter are already actively censoring and banning conservative thinkers and speakers from those platforms, for obvious political reasons.
Now the strategy appears to be clear: Gab must go.
Coincidentally, this week Facebook deleted 150 accounts belonging to a movement that opposes COVID-based lockdowns, as popular with German globalist politicians as they are with liberal leaders in the United States, who wish to shut down commerce and put people out of work whenever they deem it appropriate. The Facebook purge was likely done at the request of the German government under the NetzDG.
Torna writes in his blog that the company “received a huge packet of documents with fines and legal threats from the nation-state of Germany” in the last week.
“Because of Gab’s unwillingness to participate in State-mandated censorship of free speech, the German government is now coming after our bootstrapped tech startup with heavy fines and other legal action.
“Gab is not a lawless website. We work diligently to stop and prevent illegal activity from taking place on our platform. We have great relationships with many foreign countries who understand and respect our position on free speech and appreciate our zero tolerance for criminal activity. The German government isn’t concerned about any actual criminal activity, they are concerned with Thought Criminals who dare to dissent against their globalist regime.”
Torba goes on to outline Gab’s options in responding to this intimidation of a U.S. tech company from a European government. It is well worth the read. Then, however, he goes on to explain why he doesn’t like having to choose one of those options:
“In matters pertaining to serious crime, German police forces already know how to reach us, as indeed they have done many times in the past. We will continue to respond to those requests and provide prompt assistance to those police forces on a voluntary basis. What we will not do is restrict access to, or remove, content which is legal in the United States on or from servers in the United States.”
Torba concludes with a famous, one-word quote, addressed to Germany: “NUTS!”
Germany has heard that response before, from an American leader. It was the reply of Gen. Anthony McAuliffe, when the German army demanded his surrender at Bastogne, Belgium in 1944.