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French ‘anti-fake news’ law comes back to bite the government

It's a situation that could make many people smile: After several weeks of having worked hard on the formulation of a so-called anti-fake news law, supposed to prevent the manipulation of information, this legislation has turned against the administration of President Macron.

Published: April 3, 2019, 8:47 am

    Twitter has decided to block a campaign by the French Interior Ministry encouraging the French to vote in the European elections. According to the government, the social network believes that it might violate the French law against fake news, reported 20 Minutes.

    The digital campaign of the Interior Ministry calling on the French to register on the electoral lists for the next European elections on 25 and 26 May, has had an unintended outcome. According to AFP, the Government Information Service (GIS), in charge of piloting the campaign “#Ouijevote”, was unable to publish sponsored tweets because Twitter felt that such a campaign might violate French law against fake news.

    The law “on the manipulation of information”, designed by Emmanuel Macron and adopted by Parliament last autumn, notably imposes on the main digital platforms (Google, Facebook, Twitter) to provide information on the political advertisements which they distribute for remuneration on their site in order to avoid manipulation and electoral interference.

    “Twitter does not know how to do that today,” the management of the GIS admitted. Matignon meanwhile claims that it is a “public information campaign, and not a political campaign for a party”.

    According to French law, the hosts must make public the amount paid for electoral messages, and make available to voters an online register containing information on the identity of the promoters of these election advertisements.

    The new law also allows a candidate or party to approach the courts in order to stop the dissemination of “false information during the three months preceding a national vote, in the case of inaccurate or misleading allegations”. The law was promulgated last December 22.

    The social network has therefore chosen to block a campaign by the Ministry of the Interior. The Minister of the Interior, Christophe Castaner, however indignantly called on Twitter to review its “priorities”, including its fight against “content that condones terrorism”.

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