French President Emmanuel Macron has announced that legislation will be drafted to combat the spread of fake news, during electoral periods at a press conference in Paris on Wednesday.
“I have decided that we will change our legal system to protect our democracy from fake news. A law will soon be tabled on this subject,” said the French president.
“During the election period, on internet platforms, content will no longer have exactly the same rules,” he added.
“Platforms will have more transparency obligations regarding sponsored content to make public the identity of sponsors and of those who control them, but also limits on the amounts that can be used to sponsor this content,” said Emmanuel Macron. “All the words are not equal,” he insisted.
“When fake news stories are spread, it will be possible to go to a judge (…) and if appropriate have content taken down, user accounts deleted and ultimately websites blocked.”
During last year’s presidential election campaign Macron claimed to have been the victim of sustained hacking attempts and fake news articles intended to sabotage his chances of winning the Elysee. Russia’s RT and Sputnik news channels were banned from covering the campaign of Macron’s En Marche! party for “Spreading lies methodically and systematically” according to a campaign spokesperson at the time.
On January 1 a new law came into force in Germany allowing the government to impose fines of up to 50 million euros on social media companies that fail to remove fake news or hate speech from their sites within 24 hours of being alerted to it.
Emmanuel Macron has said that he wants to see the new legislation in place in France by the end of this year.