Justice and Comm. Ministries crack down on bots spreading fake news

A memorandum published on Tuesday will require automated social media posts to be clearly marked as bot posts.

Today’s youths prefer to share their feelings and emotions through texts and online, in social media, in chat platforms while gaming and in other similar settings (photo credit: SNAPPY GOAT)
Today’s youths prefer to share their feelings and emotions through texts and online, in social media, in chat platforms while gaming and in other similar settings
(photo credit: SNAPPY GOAT)

The Justice Ministry and Communications Ministry have published a memorandum for the “Bots Law,” which would oblige distributors of messages on large social networks to clearly mark messages that are automatically distributed via bots and other automated means. 

Bot problem

 The purpose of the law is to increase transparency surrounding the use of bots on the internet, as well as to reduce the widespread phenomenon of using bots to create bias in public opinion (referred to colloquially as “fake news”).

“It is time to put an end to fake news distributed by bots on social networks.”

Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel

Fake news

The proliferation of fake news has become a point of interest as claims that artificially-shared misinformation has severely impacted the public’s biases and accurate understanding of current events.

According to a Statista survey from February 2022, the majority of American adults expressed concerns about the news they find on social media. Forty-two percent of adults said they “worried a lot” about whether or not the news they found there was accurate.

The law will not make the use of bots illegal, but would allow users of social networks like Facebook and Instagram to know whether the publications they have been exposed to are authentic or made through bots funded or commissioned by an interested party.

Fake news [Illustrative] (credit: PIXABAY)Fake news [Illustrative] (credit: PIXABAY)

 If an account fails to mark its bots, the hosting social network will be obliged to remove the distributed message, and the poster will be subject to legal action.

“It is time to put an end to fake news distributed by bots on social networks,” said Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel. “Bots are a technological development with many advantages, but they carry the risk of polluting the discourse on networks by such and other factors that seek to influence public opinion, trade and more.”

“Everyone has the right to know whether they are having an online conversation with a real person, or with a bot operated by a particular entity,” said the minister. “The world-class law memorandum has created transparency – anyone can post through bots, but we will require distributors using bot technology to clearly mark the message they have spread to the general public and oblige social networks to enforce these rules.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar affirmed Hendel’s sentiments, stating that “social networks have brought many benefits, but at the same time they have become a fertile ground for spreading fake news, poison and incitement to anonymous violence.”

“The pace of technological development precedes regulation,” he said. “Today we promote a decent and healthy dialogue – also on social networks.”