Regarding the Nov. 16 front-page article “Facebook, Google take steps to fight fake news”:
Facebook, Google, Twitter and other social media companies are modern-day incarnations of the Postal Service: platforms for conveying content, not creating or editing it. So they are ill-suited to the task of policing content and, at best, can do little more than weed out some of the most egregious lies after they have achieved their intended effect.
Stronger legal remedies for libel and slander would be far more effective deterrents. The prevailing party should be able to recover attorney’s fees and costs, and damages should be based on circulation and the level of misconduct (less for merely reckless and more for knowing and intentional). Requiring proof of a direct causal relationship between lies and economic loss leaves the vast majority of victims without a viable remedy. We can no longer afford that luxury. Throughout most of U.S. history, journalists have regarded libel laws as a threat to the Fourth Estate and have fought long and hard to shield themselves from lawsuits. In 2016, litigation is the best way to protect real journalism from the cesspool of lies in which it — and our fragile democracy — is drowning.
Geoff Drucker, Arlington