Magazine July 9, 2018, Issue

The Propagandist and the Censor

A sign showing major news organizations and the words “Fake News” at a “Make America Great Again” rally in Washington, Mich., April 28, 2018. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
Fake news is a problem; so are the likely remedies

In 1936, Oswald Mosley, Britain’s Mussolini-in-waiting, released a question-and-answer book that explained what a Fascist Blighty might look like. Freedom of the press? Fleet Street would “not be free to tell lies.”

Some 80 years on, German chancellor Angela Merkel, infuriated by criticism of her immigration policy (and, rather less so, by Russian disinformation), endorsed a new law, the catchily named Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz, under which social-media companies must take down posts that constitute “manifestly unlawful . . . hate speech” and “fake news” from their sites within 24 hours of a complaint. Failure to do so can result in a fine of

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Readers respond on the Trump-Kim summit, a Chinese political activist, and our friend Mike Potemra.

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