Israeli government takes aim at social media bots

New Israeli regulation will force operators of social media ‘bots’ to clearly mark automated messages.

By World Israel News Staff

Israel is taking aim at automated social media accounts, in a bid to combat the spread of “fake news”.

Last week, the Justice Ministry and the Communications Ministry drafted a new bill, dubbed the “Bots Law”, which would require social media networks to regulate automated accounts, popularly known as “bots”.

The bill would, if passed, create greater transparency on social media networks, mandating that operators of “bot” accounts ensure that those accounts are clearly labeled, so that social media users can distinguish them from authentic accounts.

While “bots” would still be legal if the new law is passed, social media outlets will be required to remove automated accounts which are not properly labelled. The operators of such accounts will also face criminal prosecution.

Furthermore, the bill would require operators of automated accounts that are sending messages that are not properly labelled to compensate social media users exposed to such messages.

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar (New Hope) and Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel (New Hope) are both pushing for the legislation, calling on Israel to take action to end the distribution of “fake news”.

“Social media networks offer many benefits, but at the same time have turned into fertile ground for the spreading of fake news, poison, and anonymous incitement to violence,” said Minister Sa’ar. “Technological development has outpaced regulation.”

Hendel said the “time has come to put an end to fake news distributed by social media bots.”

“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 some other entity.”