Fake news is a plague. They influence elections, turn people against each other or help to do business with people’s fear. But the world is divided on how to punish fake news about the corona pandemic.
For example Germany is the most lax in its approach. German politicians of course condemn this immoral fake news in the strongest terms. But this moral indignation is more or less all what is being done. And when it comes to punishment, it remains in the area of administrative offences, a level below criminal offences.
Other countries, other customs. So, for such offences in South Africa, one is currently sent to prison for six months when he or she has spread fake news on Corona pandemics. In Bosnia, these people have to fear a fine of between 500 and 1500 euros. Companies are said to be punishable up to a fine of 4500 Euros. Singapore takes a an even stronger approach. The government there has threatened Facebook with a fine of 14,400 dollars. And this is taking the social media portals into custody for news that are not even made by them. Facebook immediately withdrew its service for Singapore, not without saying that it was concerned about how the government there deals with the freedom of speech on the Internet.
This is exactly the balancing act that needs to be considered. As in Singapore, for example, laws that were introduced long ago are also applied in Russia. They are usually be aimed to push down opposition and are now used for the morally honourable purpose of preventing fake news about Corona. There, by Russian standards, tough fines of up to 6200 dollars are imposed for false reports on the corona crisis. Perhaps fake news laws should be applied even against administration itself? The official number of corona sufferers is incredibly low in Russia. Government has recently spoken of 438 infected Russian. An incredibly low number considering the current 341365 infected worldwide.