Discussing the role of the state in social media governance

Students offer opinions about fake news on social media and the role of the state in fighting the issue, with participation from expert Professor Daniela Stockmann 

Fake news is a pervasive problem on social media platforms, but to what extent should the State be involved with this issue? Centre for Digital Governance intern Sofia Todd Tombini takes to the Hertie School campus to hear what fellow students have to say on the matter. 

Jorge Roa (MDS 2024) provides an example of a government-based initiative against fake news from his home country, Mexico. Around election season, when false information about candidates runs rampant, the government will hire journalists to fact-check and compile a public access database for debunked rumours. However, for Gabriel Zech da Silva (MDS 2023), the path isn’t as simple. Modern technologies have enabled a “democratization of fake news”, as he puts it, which make it extremely easy to falsify pictures and even videos. Given this level of sophistication and access, the path forward for state action in this matter is not exactly clear. 

It’s important to note that not everyone agrees that the state should be involved with social media regulation. Maria Ronald (MPP 2023) warns against such measures, as it can have negative impacts, especially in authoritarian societies. 

For a look at the current state of the debate surrounding this issue of social media regulation, Sofia sat down with digital governance expert, professor Danie Stockmann, Hertie School and Centre faculty. Professor Stockmann identifies three approaches to state participation in social media governance: the American approach, prioritizing market freedom; the Chinese approach, emphasizing the state’s sphere of power; and the European approach, which is a midpoint between the two. 

See the video below for more information. Professor Stockmann has also recently published about social media governance in the “Information, Communication & Society” journal, which can be accessed here.