By: Brooke Girton
France’s social media policies regarding the election are extremely different from what Americans experience. In America, people can post whatever they like, all the time, and especially during the elections. Organizations and politicians can post smear campaigns against their opponents. Last minute scandals can be uploaded to garnish more support. However, in France these tactics are forbidden to news organizations, politicians and to an extent, individual voters. France enforces a 44-hour break from these desperate attempts before the polls close. The country does not want “electoral propaganda” to influence the outcome of their election.
The issue is that this policy is difficult to enforce, mainly on individual voters. Social media, and the internet in general is made up of communities from around the world. Someone in America could post about the French election and there would be no way to enforce the laws of France. The government also cannot enforce this policy to its fullest extent without stifling freedom of speech. One also must ask how much social media actually influences the public opinion. In America, there are really only two parties and most people stick to one or the other. Voters tend to only believe the stories that support their pre-existing beliefs. In France, however, their elections may be more influenced by facts.
Much like in America, France is also dealing with fake news stories on social media. Fake polls and misinformation have been rampantly released and presented as facts. A research group called Bakamo found that many of the sources for these fake stories were “exposed to Russian influence.” These stories were also spread by fake accounts on social media.
Social media has a strong influence in our world today. Separating fact and fiction becomes increasingly difficult. Even if they could regulate what can be posted, the question remains, should they?
Farand, Chloe. “French Social Media Flooded Fake News Stories From Sources ‘Exposed to Russian Influence’ Ahead of Presidential Election.” The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 22 Apr. 2017. Web. 22 Apr. 2017.
Satter, Raphael. “Social Media Time Out as French Election Reaches Final Stage.” ABC News. ABC News Network, 22 Apr. 2017. Web. 22 Apr. 2017.