Published on
by

Proposal by France's Macron to Ban "Fake News" Denounced as Recipe for Disaster

Calling the term one ripe for "abuse," a warning that French president is "exploiting it to obtain government control over the internet"

"From the start," warned journalist Glenn Greenwald on Thursday in response the proposal by French President Emmanuel Macron, the phrase "fake news" has been used as a "rhetorical term with no definition, ensuring abuse. First, Trump appropriated it to attack journalism. Now Macron is exploiting it to obtain government control over the internet. Terms that lack definition are propaganda." (Photo: Ludovic Marin)

Following a proposal by French President Emmanuel Macron for the government to be given sweeping powers to block online content deemed "fake news" during national elections, critics caution that such a move would put the country on a slippery slope towards authoritarian-style censorship that would ultimately do more harm than good.

"From the start," warned journalist Glenn Greenwald on Thursday in response to news of Macron's call, the phrase "fake news" has been used as a "rhetorical term with no definition, ensuring abuse. First, Trump appropriated it to attack journalism. Now Macron is exploiting it to obtain government control over the internet. Terms that lack definition are propaganda."

According to the Guardian's coverage of Macron's plan, which he detailed in a speech on Wednesday, news published during an election determined to be "fake" would trigger "an emergency legal action" allowing "authorities to remove that content or even block the website." In addition, the CSA, the French government's media watchdog, would be empowered to fight against "any attempt at destabilization" by television stations controlled or influenced by foreign states.

"At election time, on internet platforms," Macron said in his speech, "the rules applying to content won't be exactly the same."

However, using the U.S. media's infamous failures leading up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 as an example, Greenwald argues that allowing a government to act as the arbiter of what constitutes "fake" vs. "real" news is a recipe for disaster.

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

Never Miss a Beat.

Get our best delivered to your inbox.

"So if the Bush admin in 2002 had the power to block "Fake News" from the internet, you're saying they'd have blocked (false) Judy Miller stories about Iraqi WMDs & Jeffrey Golbderg on the Saddam/AQ alliance?" he asks of a commenter responding to his original tweet. "Or would they have blocked (true) stories denying those things?"

Over the years, Greenwald has said much the same of the term "terrorism," which in the American political arena is used to describe the violence committed by other people and foreign governments, but never the violence perpetrated by the U.S. military or its proxies around the world.

While much has been made of so-called "fake news" in the U.S. following the 2016 presidential campaign, a study published this week revealed the false news stories, even those spread wildly on social media platforms, had "little impact" on those exposed to them and likely did little or nothing in terms of influencing the outcome of the elections.

"The reach of fake news was wide indeed, the study found," the New York Times reported, "yet also shallow."

Our pandemic coverage is free to all. As is all of our reporting.

No paywalls. No advertising. No corporate sponsors. Since the coronavirus pandemic broke out, traffic to the Common Dreams website has gone through the roof— at times overwhelming and crashing our servers. Common Dreams is a news outlet for everyone and that’s why we have never made our readers pay for the news and never will. But if you can, please support our essential reporting today. Without Your Support We Won't Exist.

Please select a donation method:



Share This Article