Policy

Brief

“Fake news” is a rampant problem.  Online media market incentives reward ‘clickbait’ and controversy even as our social media feeds send us more and more outrageous stories to incite a reaction.  

The rewards for publishing inflammatory content are high with no real penalty.  At the extreme end, those who wish to misinform the American public can do so with little fear of repercussions.  The lack of trusted news increasingly isolates us in information silos that hurt our democracy.  

We must introduce both a means to investigate and punish those who are seeking to misinform the American public.  If enough citizens complain about a particular source of information and news is demonstrably and deliberately false, there should be penalties.  I will appoint a new News and Information Ombudsman with the power to fine egregious corporate offenders.  One of the main purposes of the Ombudsman will be to identify sources of spurious information that are associated with foreign nationals.  The Ombudsman will work with social media companies to identify fraudulent accounts and disable and punish responsible parties.  The Ombudsman will be part of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

 

We need a robust free press and exchange of information. But we should face the reality that fake news and misinformation spread via social media threatens to undermine our democracy and may make it impossible for citizens to make informed decisions on a shared set of facts. This is particularly problematic given that foreign actors, particularly Russia, intend to do us harm and capitalize on our freedom of information. We need to start monitoring and punishing bad actors to give the determined journalists a chance to do their work.
— Andrew

 

Problems to be Solved

  • Fake news and misinformation, particularly from foreign actors, threaten to undermine our democracy and ability to make informed decisions.
  • Stories are increasingly subject to market incentives that reward sensationalism and discourage thoughtful treatment.  
  • Mistrust of media is at an all-time high, making it very difficult to form a consensus on solutions or common goals.  
  • Disincentives to publish inflammatory information are weak or nonexistent.
Goals
  • Provide resources to ensure that deliberate misinformation is curbed
  • Protect elections from foreign intervention
  • Introduce penalties for persistent and destructive misstatements that undermine public discourse
Guiding Principles
  • Objectivity
  • Protection of Democracy
  • Restoration of Trust

 

As President, I will…

  • Imbue the FCC with a new office of the News and Information Ombudsman whose role it will be to investigate complaints of deliberate, persistent and destructive misinformation published by media companies and on social media, with a particular priority of curbing any foreign actors posing as citizens and impose fines as necessary.