(Geneva) – Akin Gump attorneys recently participated in a briefing at the Geneva Press Club, titled “Getting It Right: Fake News, Due Diligence and a Strange New World.” The program featured a discussion about the true meaning of “fake news,” looking at ways to distill the facts and know where truth and fiction diverge.
Bill Cosby’s defamation case, McKee v. Cosby, presented the Supreme Court with an interesting question: whether a purported victim of sexual misconduct’s allegation of her victimhood thrusts her to the forefront of a public debate, thus transforming her into a limited-purpose public figure and requiring that she show “actual malice” to prevail in any defamation claim.1
This week, the French parliament will debate proposed legislation that is designed to stop what it calls the “manipulation of information” and what is colloquially referred to as “fake news.” What differentiates this bill from similar ones currently under consideration by other countries, however, is that it would change the rules for speech in the time leading up to elections.
A recent investigation uncovered two separate networks that together own at least 30 identical sites, each of which allows users to “prank” their friends by creating their own false news stories and post the creations to social media. The sites package the content to resemble real news sources, and only when viewers click on the underlying link are they informed that the story is fake.
Comet Ping Pong, a restaurant in Washington, D.C., is not home to a child-trafficking ring. That didn't stop Edgar Maddison Welch from conducting an armed “self-investigation” of the conspiracy theory that high-level Democrats ran such a child-trafficking ring from the back rooms of the pizzeria. Unfortunately for Comet Ping Pong and its owner, there appear to be few viable options to clear their name and seek redress for harm already suffered because of this viral rumor.
An online news magazine recently created a browser extension aiming to stop—or at least counter—the spread of fake news on social media. The extension, called “This is Fake,” allows users of certain web browsers to install a plug-in that allows those users to report possible fake news. The plug-in also informs users when an article linked on certain social media has been identified by the news magazine's editors as “fake news.” Additionally, the extension gives users an opportunity to easily leave a comment indicating the article’s fictitious nature on the social media post, alerting the poster and other viewers that the source is not reliable.