In the news ticker from heise online there will be no more joking messages about the beginning of April. The editorial team is reacting to a draft of an “Ordinance for technical regulatory standards to determine and identify the truthfulness of editorial news content distributed over the Internet” by the Directorate-General for Communication Networks, Content and Technologies of the EU Commission, which was leaked to heise online via the Heise tipster .
The ordinance referred to internally as “fake stop” in the Directorate General provides that “informational content, the core or cause of which relates or has related to an occurrence, a statement or an event, which is predominantly at least dubious Truth content is based, which is not readily verifiable or falsifiable, as such must be clearly perceptible and unmistakably marked in all official languages of the European Union and its member states “. The regulation should apply to all such content that is available in the EU, including those from third countries. It is unclear how this is to be implemented, i.e. whether, for example, fake filters could be used for reports from the USA.
Duty not to be forgotten
For reasons of a planned documentation obligation, however, the incriminated contributions should not be deleted, the draft further explains. With regard to the “right to be forgotten”, which was discussed almost seven years ago at the European level, namely before the ECJ, there could at least be legal collisions here.
The largely blackened draft ordinance, which heise online is available, provides for a graphic that contains the word “fake” in capital letters, with which the relevant online contributions are to be identified. Whether this will ultimately be accepted in this form remains to be seen. Spanish government officials in the Directorate General have raised concerns, well-informed sources say; The Austrians were not satisfied with an earlier draft. Representatives from other countries disagreed with the translation of the term “fake” into their languages.
Warning gold mine?
“Fake stop” stipulates that a provider of editorial news content must react within 24 hours if a private person or an organization feels badly fooled and reports this to the provider. However, providers should be given a transition period of six months so that they can revise their archive.
“The regulation should apply retrospectively to all articles that users can access via an archive register or a search function,” explains Dr. Volker Zota, editor-in-chief of heise online. “It should also apply not only to deliberately misleading reports such as April 1st, but also to news content on every day.” Jürgen Kuri, deputy editor-in-chief of heise online, adds: “We are sure that we have always reported truthfully. If there was a denial or corrections, the respective report was updated immediately.”
However, the problem arises, for example, that April Fools jokes can be caught in reality and whether a marking would then have to be removed. It could also happen that a supposedly serious press release outside the beginning of April turns out to be a windy promise after a long time. “Or what about the many reports in which there is talk of a strict Easter rest, which was then withdrawn? Nobody can keep an eye on all of this in the long term,” criticized Kuri.
The formulation “predominantly at least dubious truthfulness” is possibly – for example here in this report due to the unclear source situation – completely in the eye of the viewer, who may be a warning lawyer, for example, and the viewer, who could ultimately be called Justizia. “And she is mostly portrayed as visually impaired,” notes Kuri. It is possible that the EU will also move if it comes with a regulation, because it is a binding legal act that every EU member state has to implement in full; in contrast to the directive, which simply sets one goal that all countries can achieve in their own way.
“In any case, every April Fool’s joke will be pointless in the future if this draft passes the European committees,” comments Zota. The marking would immediately identify such articles as invented. Kuri sees the move to stop bringing April fools around as a kind of wake-up call. This is intended to shake up the industry and readers, because: “It is not even clear whether the seemingly insane regulation will pass, but based on previous experience we have to reckon with everything,” says Kuri.
In addition, Zota, Kuri and their team did not only think about the meaning of April Fools’ jokes in general when the EU Commission was planning to do so. It happens again and again that readers find old news from an earlier April 1st and don’t know whether to take it at face value. Often enough it has happened that an April Fool’s joke accidentally or deliberately got into the network too early and caused confusion. Clever PR agencies take advantage of this fact and “accidentally” create nonsense that somehow sticks in people’s minds.
Kuri puts this in a larger context: “We have been inundated more and more with fake news from everywhere on the Internet for a long time, including in the case of Trump from the highest government agencies. That is the background to this regulation “Premature”, but also normal April Fool’s jokes have at least a taste. It is also becoming more and more difficult to find a suitable topic that does not get lost in the fake sea and that first pisses readers off, but then after a short time Thinking gives you an aha moment. ” In the optimal case with a smile, as Kuri adds with such a smile.