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3 Apr, 2019 16:24

Macron own goal? Twitter blocks govt ad campaign to comply with French fake-news law

Macron own goal? Twitter blocks govt ad campaign to comply with French fake-news law

An ad campaign launched by the French government to encourage people to register to vote has hit an embarrassing snag: Twitter won’t run the ads, as the company fears they may violate the new French law targeting fake news.

The Elysee hoped to inspire citizens to register to vote in the European elections ahead of the upcoming deadline by paying for sponsored tweets promoting the hashtag #OuiJeVote (Yes, I Vote). But the seemingly innocuous ad campaign faced an unexpected hurdle: France’s recently-passed anti-fake-news legislation, which places strict rules on online political campaigns. The law states that all political ads must indicate who paid for them and how much was spent.

Fearing that the ad may violate the law passed by President Emmanuel Macron’s own government, Twitter refused to run the ad.

The decision stunned French lawmakers and officials.

“I thought it was an April Fools!” tweeted MP Naima Moutchou.

Interior Minister Christophe Castanter expressed similar disbelief.

“Twitter’s priority should be to fight content that glorifies terrorism. Not campaigns to register on the electoral lists of a democratic republic,” he wrote.

The French law, which was enacted in December, stipulates that information about the person or company who pays for an ad must be available in an easily accessible database.

Also on rt.com Welcome to dictatorship? What lies behind France's controversial 'fake news' law

Paris now claims that it’s Twitter’s inability to make such information publicly available that has resulted in the company adopting a “hardline policy” – which forbids all political ads.

“It’s not that the law has backfired against us, it’s a platform which does not comply,” the government information service told AFP.

French Twitter users didn’t seem very sympathetic to the officials’ grumblings, however, with many openly rejoicing in how France’s anti-fake-news crusade had come back to haunt Paris.

Defending the bill, which passed in November, Macron called the regulation of online material “the sine qua non condition for a free, open and secure internet.” The opposition, on the other hand, has called the law “repressive,” arguing that it will trample on free speech.

READ MORE: ‘Ridiculous & absurd political censorship’: Opposition critics slam Macron’s anti-fake news law

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