California Democrat Introduces Bill to Force Websites to Use ‘Fact-Checkers’

Richard Pan (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

California State Senator Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) has proposed a bill, the “Online False Information Act,” that would require anyone who posts news on the Internet to verify their information through “fact-checkers.”

The bill, filed quietly in late February as SB 1424, requires all California-based websites to develop a plan to fight “fake news,” to use “fact-checkers,” and to warn readers — including via social media — of “false information.”

The bill reads as follows:

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1.

Title 14.5 (commencing with Section 3085) is added to Part 4 of Division 3 of the Civil Code, to read:

TITLE 14.5. False Information Strategic Plans

3085.

(a) Any person who operates a social media Internet Web site with physical presence in California shall develop a strategic plan to verify news stories shared on its Internet Web site.

(b) The strategic plan shall include, but is not limited to, all of the following:

(1) A plan to mitigate the spread of false information through news stories.

(2) The utilization of fact-checkers to verify news stories.

(3) Providing outreach to social media users regarding news stories containing false information.

(4) Placing a warning on a news story containing false information.

(c) As used in this section, “social media” means an electronic service or account, or electronic content, including, but not limited to, videos, still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages, email, online services or accounts, or Internet Web site profiles or locations.

The bill would arguably impose onerous costs on individuals and businesses alike, and would serve as a tool for censorship by subjecting dissenting opinions to review via “fact-checkers.”

It is not clear who would appoint the “fact-checkers.”

Currently, Facebook uses fact-checkers approved by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), an organization run by the Poynter Institute, which in turn is funded, in part, by George Soros’s Open Society Foundation and other liberal organizations.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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