Today, in an annual speech to the press, French President Emmanuel Macron stated he is going to propose strict laws against fake news during elections this year.
Macron goes on to say that strong legislation for social media platforms is necessary “in order to protect democracy.”
New laws would mean more transparency regarding sponsored content, meaning that the public would be made aware of the sponsor, as well as the amount of money involved.
French media watchdog, the CSA, would be in charge of the fight against fake news and during election season, emergency legal action could be taken immediately by authorities by blocking propaganda content.
Last year, the French President criticized fake news in Russia, particularly news outlets Russia Today and Sputnik, after fake and misleading information about him spread during the presidential elections. At one point during last year’s campaign, Macron’s team refused to offer accreditation to the networks.
During a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin last year, Macron called out Russian influence in the election, stating that “when media organs spread slanderous falsehoods, they are no longer journalists.”
Rumors about an off-shore account belonging to the French President also began making rounds last year, just hours before a debate between Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. The source was tracked down as an alt-right forum from the United States.
Le Pen has criticized the proposal, tweeting that France is muzzling its citizens. In another tweet, she asks “Who will decide if a piece of news is fake? Judges? The government?“