France's Macron vows law vs fake news, eyeing Russian Federation

Dubai rings in New Year with laser spectacular

Dubai rings in New Year with laser spectacular

French President Emmanuel Macron has proposed legislation to crack down on the spread of fake news, particularly around elections - a move which has voices on both the left and right nervous about whether it would curb press freedom.

Concern about how social media platforms are being misappropriated to channel and amplify disinformation has rocketed up the political agenda in recent years, most especially in the wake of the 2016 USA presidential election and as more details have emerged about the extent of Russian-backed online content meddling. He said authorities may be granted emergency legal powers to remove content or block "fake news" websites.

He explained that the propagation of fake news on social media is far too simple and accessible, saying it "only requires a few tens of thousands of euros and can be done with total anonymity".

The President said there would also be strict "limits on the amount" of sponsored content, and more power would be given to the CSA, France's media watchdog.

Macron says press freedom wouldn't be threatened by this bill since it would only apply during campaigns.

Russian fake news journalists and bots are also said to have influenced Donald Trump's election as American president in 2016, and to have interfered with the Brexit vote in Britain in the same year.

France's Emmanuel Macron declared 2018 "a decisive year" and said cooperation between France and Germany is necessary for Europe to become economically stronger and be a global leader on equal footing with China and the United States.

A French journalist, Loup Bureau, who was detained in a Turkish prison for more than seven weeks on "terror" charges, returned to France in September after Macron appealed to Erdoğan for his release.

The French citizens become more optimistic about the future compared to the last eight years.

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