German government plans “Defence Centre against Misinformation”
Marianne Arens and Peter Schwarz
9 January 2017
For weeks, the German and international public sphere has been bombarded with a campaign against so-called “fake news.” If one believes leading politicians and journalists, then the cause of the loss of trust in establishment parties and the media are false reports on social networks and their manipulation by the Russian intelligence agencies. As Der Spiegel reported, referring to an internal paper of the Federal Interior Ministry, the government now wants to establish a “Defence Centre against Misinformation”—a type of censorship and propaganda agency.
The “Defence Centre” will be set up in the Federal Press Office under Steffen Seibert, who, six years ago, moved seamlessly from his position leading the “Heute Journal,” one of the most important news programs in Germany, to his position as a government spokesperson. The new centre is supposed to strengthen the “political power of defence” of the population and force social networks such as Facebook, Google and Twitter to censor content posted by users.
“The acceptance of a post-factual age would amount to political capitulation,” an internal paper quoted by Der Spiegel said. The paper insisted that “authentic political communication” remains “crucial for the 21 century” as well. Accordingly, wide-reaching measures would have to be formulated to deal with the disinformation campaign, fake news and the manipulation of public opinion.
Numerous politicians support the campaign against supposed fake news on the Internet and demand stronger laws.
Parliamentary President Norbert Lammert (Christian Democratic Union, CDU) told the Osnabrücker Newspaper about “dangers of…