To my knowledge, anti-fake news laws being implemented in France, Germany and Singapore in the Western world. Many studies like this one mention the psychological studies which acknowledge the backfire effect - the effect when people tend to uphold to their views most strongly when their questioned. Several studies have found out social media have been succesful in reducing fake-news reach via their own regulation.

However, I wasn't able to find a study which would evaluate the impact of the existing fake-news social media regulations.

What I would like to find out: Does the regulation seem to be effective in reducing the spread of fake-news or does it help it?

  • 3
    The problem, at least in the US, is that most of what is called "fake news" is actually real news that certain people don't want to believe.
    – jamesqf
    Oct 8, 2020 at 16:19

2 Answers 2


What do the laws cover and who is the target?

You mentioned Germany. The focus of the NetzDG (Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz, network enforcement law) is ostensibly regulate the application of other, existing laws online. For all practical purposes, the supporters of the law say, people on Facebook and similar networks are anonymous when they they do insults, death threats, and libel. The approach is twofold, giving the victims the right to request data from the social media companies if they want to sue the perpetrator themselves and forcing the social media companies to employ a meaningful complaint management.

The latter is, of course, the major cause for controversy about the law. The NetzDG requires companies to take down "obviously illegal" content quickly and threatens penalties, so the companies might be encouraged to err on the side of caution and simply slap down any controversial statement.

I can make an obviously false statement ("the moon is made out of cheese") and that fake news would not fall under the NetzDG. I could make statements completely without any news content, fake or otherwise, and they would fall under the law.

So the law does not care what the perpetrators think or feel, it tries to protect the victims.

  • 1
    Sorry, thank you for your clarification, but that wasn't the question. The law is said to aim at nazi content and it tackles defamation which could play role in deleting fake news. loc.gov/law/help/fake-news/germany.php
    – Probably
    Oct 8, 2020 at 8:25
  • @Probably Nazi material in Germany is illegal, so it falls under the "obviously illegal" category mentioned above. Oct 8, 2020 at 9:05
  • @Probably, the loc quotes "[...] objectively criminal content, such as incitement to hatred [...]." That's different from obviously false content, even if the truth (or not) can enter in the question of defamation.
    – o.m.
    Oct 8, 2020 at 10:04
  • Yes - my point is - deleting hate speech can lead to deleting fake news as a byproduct. My examples indicated cases where the truth could play a role in the assestment. However, thank you for your answer, you were right in the assumption I wasn't aware that the law has nothing to do with fake news, as some reporters mistakenly mention
    – Probably
    Oct 8, 2020 at 15:16
  • (of course, theoretically, the truthfulness doesn't play a role but lies/unfounded info are what constitues a big part of a conspiracy theory or a defamation, in my intuition)
    – Probably
    Oct 8, 2020 at 15:18

I don't think it really has an impact on people believing fake news as people tend to believe what they want to believe in the first place. The reason I think this is because people will get fooled by satire news sites and take what they see there as factual news. There is a study published in the Ohio State University News talking about people believing news on sites that openly advertise themselves as fake/satire.


In July, the website Snopes published a piece fact-checking a story posted on The Babylon Bee, a popular satirical news site with a conservative bent.

Conservative columnist David French criticized Snopes for debunking what was, in his view, “obvious satire. Obvious.” A few days later, Fox News ran a segment featuring The Bee’s incredulous CEO.

But does everyone recognize satire as readily as French seems to?

Our team of communication researchers has spent years studying misinformation, satire and social media. Over the last several months, we’ve surveyed Americans’ beliefs about dozens of high-profile political issues. We identified news stories – both true and false – that were being shared widely on social media.

We discovered that many of the false stories weren’t the kind that were trying to intentionally deceive their readers; they actually came from satirical sites, and many people seemed to believe them.

  • Thanks for your input. I have found many studies which tested people's reaction to fake news and its correction. Indeed they didn't find a significant effect in either way. However, I think a government regulation is a whole other area. Regarding this, I've edited the question because I've found one indication this effort could have been succesful which are studies mentioned here which actually found out decreasing the fake-news reach by social media has been succesful hightechforum.org/does-fact-checking-work-on-fake-news
    – Probably
    Oct 7, 2020 at 21:34
  • @Probably When you have news that is explicitly labeled as fake/satire/humor on the source site that people take as true news I don't think that any regulation trying to target fake news that isn't labeled is going to help or hurt.
    – Joe W
    Oct 7, 2020 at 21:45

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .