German chancellor Angela Merkel is worried about fake news and other technical interference in that country’s upcoming elections in 2017.
Merkel told lawmakers, “In order to reach people, to inspire people, we need to deal with this phenomenon and – where necessary – regulate it.” In addition to fake news circulating online, Merkel is concerned about “social bots,” software that could influence opinion on social media sites.
Reuters notes, “Social bots are software programs that mimic human behaviour on social media sites, such as by publishing messages or liking posts. They can be used to spread erroneous information and muddy the debate. “
The far right Alternative for Germany has been attacking Merkel for her pro-refugee stance, an issue that has been used on the right in anti-immigrant election successes in the United States and with the Brexit referendum in England.
Fake news and other disinformation is believed to have played a role in helping to influence the outcome of the U.S. election. Most fake news that circulated online was false information about Secretary Hillary Clinton, and passed around by Trump supporters.