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Attorney Ian Friedman Discusses Fake News on The Sound of Ideas


Attorney Ian Friedman was recently invited to sit on a panel of local experts for The Sound of Ideas radio show with Mike McIntyre. Attorney Friedman provided legal insight on several hot topics pertaining to the 2016 election, including possible legal ramifications for those responsible for the widespread sharing of fake news.

Sharing Fake News – Is It a Crime?

Attorney Friedman explained that because of technological advances and the widespread platforms available to the individuals sharing fake news, it’s a problem that is hard to control. "We're behind the technology, we're in a reactive state," he told Host Mike McIntyre.

"What we have now are laws that didn't anticipate this type of broad speech getting out to the millions. We have libel, slander, defamation and so forth,” Attorney Friedman said. However, addressing the repercussions of these crimes is going to be extremely difficult. “Once that message is out there, it's out there... the harm is already done."

Mr. McIntyre and Attorney Friedman discussed the big role that fake news played on social media in the months that led up to election of Donald Trump, and whether or not there was a legal remedy against those who produce the content.

"It's really incumbent upon the reader or the listener to decipher what is true and what's not," Attorney Friedman said. He likened much of the fake news to the kinds of outrageous tabloid headlines we often see in supermarket checkout lines.

Free Speech vs. Hate Speech

Mr. McIntyre also addressed the rise in hate speech over the last year, specifically on platforms like Twitter, which allows many users to anonymously and publically post hate speech that is often directed at other users. The host wondered if there were legal protections in place that would allow officials and authorities to end this activity or punish those who partake in it.

"Hate speech, as offensive as it may be, as hateful as it may be, is protected [by the Constitution] and the high court has gone a long way to protect the First Amendment over the years," Attorney Friedman pointed out.

Attorney Friedman explained that "Where you get to problematic speech is that which would illicit a reasonable person to act. Threatening people, inciting people to act."

View the entire 90.3 WCRN show on Idea Stream's website:

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