It’s been months now since the mainstream media became hysterical following the election, and began a veritable witch hunt over “fake news” on the internet. Now this madness is spilling into the real world. California’s legislature recently tried to pass legislation that would ban fake news.
Last week, the California Assembly’s Committee on Privacy and Consumer Affairs filed AB 1104, or the California Political Cyberfraud Abatement Act. This law would have essentially made it illegal to knowingly publish or share fake news that is related to an election. The bill made no exception for satire or hyperbole, and failed to explain by what standard anyone would determine if a story was fake.
18320.5. It is unlawful for a person to knowingly and willingly make, publish or circulate on an Internet Web site, or cause to be made, published, or circulated in any writing posted on an Internet Web site, a false or deceptive statement designed to influence the vote on either of the following:
(a) Any issue submitted to voters at an election.
(b) Any candidate for election to public office.
What’s truly hilarious however, is that this bill could have stifled the same reporters in the mainstream media who have been complaining about fake news. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation pointed out, journalists who reported on supposed fake news stories wouldn’t be able to quote them, even if it was in an attempt to debunk those stories.
Clearly the bill was not only unconstitutional, it was incredibly dumb too. That’s probably why it was pulled not long after it was introduced. That’s kind of a relief, but the fact that we have people in our government who don’t think twice about proposing these ideas, is quite disturbing.