Government fighting disinformation

Fake news misleads people and puts democracy at risk. Here's how Germany is responding to this threat.

Lies are a threat to democracy.
Lies are a threat to democracy. AdobeStock

Fake news, i.e. disinformation spread via the internet, is a global challenge, especially for democratic governments. One of them, Germany, counters half-truths, state-orchestrated disinformation campaigns, conspiracy theories and propaganda by providing transparent, fact-based information.

Who is responsible for clarification?

The government ministries working in the respective field are responsible for correcting specific cases of false information: for example the Ministry of Health when it comes to fabricated dangers of coronavirus vaccinations, or the Federal Foreign Office when it comes to false or misleading statements about Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine.

Above and beyond correcting specific false reports, the fight against fake news is divided into several steps.

1. Detecting and analysing disinformation

Ministries and government authorities monitor the news situation. For example, the Federal Foreign Office is in constant contact with Germany's international bilateral partners, as well as with organizations like the EU, G7 and NATO. Security agencies such as the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution also collect and evaluate information.

2. Coordinated response

Rapid reactions to false information are particularly important in times of crisis. Therefore, for example, since the Russian attack on Ukraine, the Federal Ministry of the Interior has headed a task force that focuses specifically on Russian disinformation, and coordinates the exchange of information and the responses of the ministries affected.

3. Combatting disinformation

Fake news is predominantly spread via social networks. First and foremost, therefore, those in charge must take action against disinformation. To this end, the Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG) in Germany and the Digital Services Act at the European level have the task of making operators act on their responsibility

4. Identifying and researching developments

Beyond specific cases, false information is spread according to certain patterns. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds projects for scientific research into the phenomenon.

5. Educating citizens

The most important step in the fight against fake news is education. Germany's Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) supports the 'Live Democracy!' project with 14 competence centres and more than 600 projects with an annual budget of €165.5 million. The promotion of education and democracy is also the task of the Federal Agency for Civic Education (BpB).

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