Macron goes after online platforms, foreign ‘propaganda’ media – POLITICO

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron says online platforms and foreign “propaganda” media are the primary drivers behind the unfold of disinformation within the nation — and he needs to rein them in.

“Online platforms, influencers, and likewise residents who typically take a substantial place within the public debate exactly by way of these new platforms … will need to have a framework of accountability that’s but to be constructed,” he mentioned Tuesday throughout the annual new yr speech earlier than the nation’s press corps. 

“The identical should apply to foreign media approved to broadcast on French soil,” the president added, in a transparent allusion to Russian retailers resembling Sputnik and RT.


Macron’s remarks constructed on the conclusions of a report delivered to him earlier Tuesday that pitches pointers to struggle in opposition to disinformation and conspiracy theories online. On the finish of September, he tasked a group of students, sociologists, professors, journalists and historians with engaged on the difficulty, in a committee dubbed “the Enlightenment within the digital age” — a reference to the 18th-century French philosophical motion.

The president mentioned that fascinated with the best way to struggle pretend information whereas defending correct data and dependable media ought to occur on the EU degree, and transcend nationwide electoral deadlines.

The speech comes at a vital time for Macron, just some months away from April’s high-stakes presidential vote during which he is anticipated to hunt reelection, and likewise amidstrained relations with the press.

In 2017, Macron’s marketing campaign was attacked by Russian-backed hackers and only some weeks in the past, his spouse First Woman Brigitte Macron was the target of a conspiracy concept falsely claiming she’s transgender.

As Macron’s La République En Marche social gathering, public authorities and politicians put together for an election marketing campaign anticipated to be rife with disinformation, the French president hinted at a brand new strategy towards foreign media, backing a peer review-like “self regulation” system whereby the press trade identifies “dependable media.”

“I say it right here with nice gravity: We’re at present a democracy typically naive … We let propaganda actors financed by foreign authoritarian regimes — that don’t reply in any technique to a regime of accountability or journalistic ethics — inform and take part within the debate as journalists,” he mentioned.

Lately, the French president has normally used the annual deal with to the press to pitch new laws associated to media and knowledge. This yr, nonetheless, he has too little time forward of the election to make sure any new guidelines really materialize, however he hinted in his speech about potential future regulation if he’s reelected.

“On the query of algorithms, we’ll collectively have to have debates, and doubtless laws,” Macron mentioned. He added that researchers ought to have extra entry to “the information and algorithms” of online platforms — which is prone to change into a actuality through the EU’s Digital Services Act, a content material moderation invoice presently being mentioned in Brussels and considered one of France’s priorities throughout its Council of the EU presidency.

Macron additionally promised the media he would go after Large Tech corporations once more in the event that they refuse to pay for information.

Slamming Google, the French president mentioned Paris would make sure the EU’s copyright reform, which offers press publishers with so-called neighboring rights, is certainly efficient — and will not shrink back from doing extra. 

“We are going to full, if obligatory, our French and European texts in an effort to attain the top of the objective that was ours and stays ours: the honest remuneration of copyright and neighboring rights,” he mentioned. 

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