Really Bad Ideas: French President Macron Wants To Ban 'Fake News' During The Election

from the now-define-it dept

French President Emmanuel Macron was held up by some in the tech industry as a moderate who "got technology" leading up to his election. And yet, every time he seems to weigh in on tech related issues, it's with an absolutely terrible take on it. He wanted to mandate encryption backdoors and demand internet censorship of "radicals" online who post "inflammatory content." And now he's expanding that position and saying he wants to ban "fake news" during election season.

In his new year’s speech to journalists at the &‌Eacute;lys&‌eacute;e palace, Macron said he would shortly present the new law in order to fight the spread of fake news, which he said threatened liberal democracies.

New legislation for websites would include more transparency about sponsored content. Under the new law, websites would have to say who is financing them and the amount of money for sponsored content would be capped.

For fake news published during election seasons, an emergency legal action could allow authorities to remove that content or even block the website, Macron said. “If we want to protect liberal democracies, we must be strong and have clear rules,” he added.

The transparency idea isn't such a bad one (though the details would matter quite a bit), but it's unclear why the amount of money for sponsored content should be capped if it's clearly labeled and disclosed. But the really troubling part is that last one, allowing for "emergency legal action" to remove content. It may not be surprising that Macron is saying this about fake news -- since there were reports of a burst of fake new campaigns that tried to influence the French electorate to vote against Macron in the election.

But, as we've discussed many, many times -- the idea of government-mandated censorship, even if for the idea of stopping "fake news" is a terrible idea. It will be abused and abused badly. Remember, while the term "fake news" was first popularized by people who were upset about Donald Trump's election, he's now co-opted the term and uses it to argue that any media report that makes him look bad is "fake news." Imagine what a Trump or a French Trump-like figure would do with this kind of power?

A big part of the problem, obviously, is that "fake news" means different things to different people, and whoever has the power to order such content taken down will have plenty of opportunities to abuse that power -- such as to take down news that is merely unflattering to those in power. Or, even on a more subtle level, what if an unflattering story has a few small errors or misrepresentations. Claim "fake news" and make it disappear. This eagerness of so many to immediately leap to "censor it!" as the only possible response to propaganda is highly troubling -- and most certainly goes against the French ideals of freedom.


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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2018 @ 1:50pm

    Macron is an inherited 1-percenter and a globalist. -- And none too popular in France now he's been found out.

    There's no contradiction that Trump railed at actual fake news and that Macron now uses the term to try and suppress Truth.

    Nope, NO contradiction at all: globalists attacked Trump, and now a known globalist is trying to leverage the outrage and turn to advantage.


    SAY, speaking of fake news: did you miss NYTimes attempt last week to re-work the Trump-Russia allegations?

    And more importantly, do you NOW recognize that the "Trump-Russia collusion" you ran here for months was all fabricated? Or are you still claiming that's NOT fake?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 5 Jan 2018 @ 2:25pm

      Re: Macron is an inherited 1-percenter and a globalist. -- And none too popular in France now he's been found out.

      Trump railed at actual fake news

      Railed in favor of. Repeated often.

      globalists attacked Trump

      On what globe is Trump not a globalist? This is a guy with business holdings and ties all over the world. He's one of the top globalists out there. His White House team has been filled with globalists from Goldman Sachs, Exxon, etc. and folks with ties to other governments.

      do you NOW recognize that the "Trump-Russia collusion" you ran here for months was all fabricated?

      It would help if the evidence for that collusion didn't keep growing. Or, you know, if even his campaign CEO and post election chief strategist and national security advisor wasn't now throwing the "treason" word around.

      Where have you been for the last year and a half?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Thad, 5 Jan 2018 @ 2:43pm

        Re: Re: Macron is a geek, a moronic little freak, an annoying pipsqueak with an unfortunate physique

        On what globe is Trump not a globalist?

        The one where "globalist" is a dog-whistle euphemism for "Jew".

        (Macron is not, to the best of my knowledge, Jewish, but he is a former investment banker, which presumably is close enough for our alt-right friend here.)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          very stable genius, 7 Jan 2018 @ 10:18am

          Re: Re: Re: Macron is a geek, a moronic little freak, an annoying pipsqueak with an unfortunate physique

          I am not a globalist
          Fake News
          I went to the best schools

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Chip, 7 Jan 2018 @ 8:08pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Macron is a geek, a moronic little freak, an annoying pipsqueak with an unfortunate physique

            I am a Very stable "genius"!
            is a thing that Very Stable Geniuses definitely "say".

            Every Nation ates the Paint chips it Deserves!

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Richard (profile), 6 Jan 2018 @ 4:23am

        Re: Re: Macron is an inherited 1-percenter and a globalist. -- And none too popular in France now he's been found out.

        It would help if the evidence for that collusion didn't keep growing.

        Answer me this:

        Why would the Russians have an interest in getting Trump elected?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          The Wanderer (profile), 6 Jan 2018 @ 4:41am

          Re: Re: Re: Macron is an inherited 1-percenter and a globalist. -- And none too popular in France now he's been found out.

          There are multiple possible answers, ranging from "because he expressed positive sentiments toward them and so they had reason to think he would improve relations and withdraw sanctions" through "because they had influence with/over him and thought they could control US policy towards them by that channel" to "they weren't trying to get him elected, they were just trying to weaken (the public image of and trust in) US democratic institutions, because the weaker those are the more easily Russia can claim that its own authoritarian and alternative models are just as good or better".

          We don't have enough information to know for certain which (if any) of these is correct, but there are certainly enough possible reasons available that an implied argument of "they had no reason to want to do what they're accused of doing" doesn't fly.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Richard (profile), 6 Jan 2018 @ 5:30am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Macron is an inherited 1-percenter and a globalist. -- And none too popular in France now he's been found out.

            "because he expressed positive sentiments toward them and so they had reason to think he would improve relations"

            In other words exactly the same kind of reasons as the US has when it meddles in other peoples elections.

            https://www.channel4.com/news/factcheck/americas-long-history-of-meddling-in-other-countr ies-elections

            So my message to the US would be "live with it - you do it yourself so don't be surprised when someone does it to you"

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Thad, 6 Jan 2018 @ 11:07am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Macron is an inherited 1-percenter and a globalist. -- And none too popular in France now he's been found out.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Richard (profile), 6 Jan 2018 @ 3:16pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Macron is an inherited 1-percenter and a globalist. -- And none too popular in France now he's been found out.

                I'll remind you about that next time you use the same tactic - probably with less justification.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2018 @ 6:30pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Macron is an inherited 1-percenter and a globalist. -- And none too popular in France now he's been found out.

                  So you whatabouted his whataboutism? That’s some derp level chess there. You should apply for a job with the current administration, you’d fit right in.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Thad, 6 Jan 2018 @ 8:47pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Macron is an inherited 1-percenter and a globalist. -- And none too popular in France now he's been found out.

                  No you won't.

                  Blocked, for using Whataboutism to defend Whataboutism.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 7 Jan 2018 @ 4:15pm

              If you don't want to hear the answer, don't ask the question.

              You asked why Russia would want to see Trump elected, they answered, and instead of pointing out any flaws or problems with their answer to show why they were wrong, you immediately pivoted to 'Yeah, but what about the US!'

              That was practically a textbook perfect example of Whataboutism as Thad pointed out, and made clear that you asked the question rhetorically at best, as you didn't seem to want an answer.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Thad, 7 Jan 2018 @ 8:13pm

                Re: If you don't want to hear the answer, don't ask the question.

                I gotta say, though, my favorite is the one where he asked why Russia would want Trump to win, I answered that Trump launders money for Russia, and his brilliant counterargument was "Oh yeah? Well Whatabout™ all the other countries Trump launders money for?"

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2018 @ 7:52am

          Re: Re: Re: Macron is an inherited 1-percenter and a globalist. -- And none too popular in France now he's been found out.

          "Why would the Russians have an interest in getting Trump elected?"

          Because he is the Moscowian Candidate?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2018 @ 9:13am

          Re: Re: Re: Macron is an inherited 1-percenter and a globalist. -- And none too popular in France now he's been found out.

          Because Clinton was going to be tough on Russia.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Richard (profile), 6 Jan 2018 @ 3:03pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Macron is an inherited 1-percenter and a globalist. -- And none too popular in France now he's been found out.

            Because Clinton was going to be tough on Russia. Clintons was going to be irresponsibly provocative to Russia - risking war.

            Personally I'm quite grateful that that didn't happen.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2018 @ 6:32pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Macron is an inherited 1-percenter and a globalist. -- And none too popular in France now he's been found out.

              Yeah we’re just on the brink of nuclear war with North Korea. That’s soooo much better than your bullshit hypothetical.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Thad, 6 Jan 2018 @ 11:07am

          Re: Re: Re: Macron is an inherited 1-percenter and a globalist. -- And none too popular in France now he's been found out.

          Why would the Russians have an interest in getting Trump elected?

          You mean aside from Trump's links to Russian money laundering, an interest in weakening and isolating the US, and the seemingly obvious question of whether Putin would prefer the candidate who keeps praising him or the one who keeps criticizing him? No idea.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Richard (profile), 6 Jan 2018 @ 3:01pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Macron is an inherited 1-percenter and a globalist. -- And none too popular in France now he's been found out.

            Trump has business links in many countries

            http://time.com/4629308/donald-trump-business-deals-world-map/

            It would be very surprising if the only one that was dodgy was the Russian one - or maybe all those other countries intervened in the election too.

            And by the way the existence of these dodgy Russian oligarchs is a direct consequence of the US attempt to turn Russia into an extreme capitalism experimental laboratory during the 90's.

            What goes around comes around.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              emoluments clause, 7 Jan 2018 @ 10:20am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Macron is an inherited 1-percenter and a globalist. -- And none too popular in France now he's been found out.

              restricts members of the government from receiving gifts, emoluments, offices or titles from foreign states without the consent of the United States Congress

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Wendy Cockcroft, 8 Jan 2018 @ 5:53am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Macron is an inherited 1-percenter and a globalist. -- And none too popular in France now he's been found out.

              All correct, and now we know why the Russians were so keen to see Trump elected.

              Yes, America does it too. The reason the Russians were so damn successful is due to partisanship dividing the nation and siloing the news. I'm not even joking, the "Conservatives" have their own bespoke news provided by Fox and Sinclair media services.

              Now if I were a foreign state actor wishing to weaken a nation by turning neighbour against neighbour and family members against each other, how would I do it?

              Tough one, innit?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Jan 2018 @ 3:20am

          Re: Re: Re: Macron is an inherited 1-percenter and a globalist. -- And none too popular in France now he's been found out.

          Money laundering.

          Access to US technology barred under current laws?

          Access to more advanced military equipment?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 8:03am

          Re: Re: Re: Macron is an inherited 1-percenter and a globalist. -- And none too popular in France now he's been found out.

          Because a West that's tearing itself apart through infighting due to the middle and lower classes being robbed blind is good for Russia.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Blow-back, 5 Jan 2018 @ 4:09pm

      Re: Macron is an inherited 1-percenter and a globalist. -- And none too popular in France now he's been found out.

      I know, fake news is so irritating! I can't wait until the Republicans pass a law against fake news. That way, the next time the Democrats own the presidency, we can ban irritating fake news comments just like yours!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2018 @ 4:58pm

      Re: Macron is an inherited 1-percenter and a globalist. -- And none too popular in France now he's been found out.

      U mad bro?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2018 @ 1:56pm

    Anything that makes me look bad, fake news.
    Anything that makes me look good, real news.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2018 @ 2:02pm

    "French Trump-like figure"

    He/she is called Le Pen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2018 @ 2:15pm

      Re:

      Le Pen is French for The Pen

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 6 Jan 2018 @ 4:50am

      Re:

      _"French Trump-like figure"

      He/she is called Le Pen._

      Except that Le Pen's economic policies are actually closer to Bernie Sanders than Trump, protect France's 35 hour week and early retirement and Macron's economics have turned out to be quite similar to Trump, tax breaks for the rich and cuts in public spending.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2018 @ 7:54am

        Re: Re:

        News Flash: Politicians lie

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Thad, 6 Jan 2018 @ 11:09am

        Re: Re:

        Yeah, if you ignore all the white nationalism, those two white nationalists are completely different.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Richard (profile), 6 Jan 2018 @ 3:15pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Do you mean trump and Macron, Trump and Le Pen or Macron and Le Pen?

          Problem is that politics is not a one dimensional thing - and as Bill Clinton pointed out the economy tends to trump other issues.

          Macron is socially liberal and internationalist - but he is also a right wing technocrat economically.

          Le Pen leads a party that has historically been xenophobic maybe even racist, although she would deny that that opinion survives fairly vociferously - after all she did expel her own father from the party in order to make the point. However economically she is left wing and quite socialist.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Drew_Wilson (profile), 5 Jan 2018 @ 2:26pm

    My Thoughts On This

    I have my own thoughts on the matter. One point I've made is the fact that, even if you support the idea of stamping out fake news, the judicial oversight being floated will always be playing catchup because there is going to be a lag between when a story is published and when a complaint is processed. That window of time between allows the "fake news" to be spread.

    That's just one of the many thoughts I have on this.

    There are a lot of technical hurdles this proposal doesn't address that I can see. It's interesting that Mike was able to at least touch on a few of them towards the end of his piece.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2018 @ 9:16am

      Re: My Thoughts On This

      Solution: require only journalists publish news. Only people who publish news the government likes are journalists, so anyone publishing something else can immediately be thrown in jail for publishing without a license.

      What counts as news? Anything the government says, obviously.

      NOTE: I hope this is too extreme to ever be seriously proposed, but I'm losing faith in that...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 5 Jan 2018 @ 2:57pm

    Define Fake News?

    Is it like genuine imitation real plastic vinyl leather?

    Is it things you don't agree with?

    Is it sites with certain political leanings?

    Is it comedy / parody sites?

    Paid for by Americans for Renewable Complaining and Sustainable Whining.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2018 @ 3:12pm

      Re: Define Fake News?

      For politicians, it is stories that might damage their election chances, or bruise their thin skins, and has nothing to do with truth or falsity.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 5 Jan 2018 @ 3:31pm

      Re: Define Fake News?

      It might have had a different meaning before, but these days it seems like it's simply 'news that I don't like'.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        JEDIDIAH, 6 Jan 2018 @ 7:50am

        Re: Define Fake News?

        If you are lucky, "professional journalists" will tell you a half truth. That's only if you are lucky. If you're not lucky, what you are told is a fabrication that bears little resemblance to reality.

        Media outlets have been distorting the news to fit a pre-set narrative and people were complaining about this before Trump came along.

        It's just a lot more obvious and blatant now.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Thad, 6 Jan 2018 @ 11:10am

          Re: Re: Define Fake News?

          Media outlets have been distorting the news to fit a pre-set narrative and people were complaining about this before Trump came along.

          Yet Trump never seems to have any criticisms for Fox News or Infowars.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Richard (profile), 6 Jan 2018 @ 3:21pm

            Re: Re: Re: Define Fake News?

            _Yet Trump never seems to have any criticisms for Fox News or Infowars.

            Of course he doesn't they're on his side.

            But then again - which politician criticises the media that support him?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2018 @ 9:16am

        Re: Re: Define Fake News?

        No, no, no! It's whatever news makes Trump look bad!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Jan 2018 @ 11:11am

        Re: Re: Define Fake News?

        No, I'm pretty sure "news I don't like" was always the meaning.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          The Wanderer (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 4:52am

          Re: Re: Re: Define Fake News?

          Back when Jon Stewart and his ilk used it of their own (comedic) programs, and when various people (including, I think, The Onion itself) used it to describe The Onion, it certainly did not mean that.

          I'm also reasonably sure it didn't have that meaning when Hillary Clinton used it in the post-election interview which seems to have given Donald Trump the idea to use the term, but I haven't reviewed that interview recently enough to be sure about that.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2018 @ 7:52am

      Re: Define Fake News?

      "Fake News":

      1. noun. A meme created by cabal news outlets to distinguish their lies from other lies.

      2. noun. The ostensible assumption that information that isn't in conformance with the consensus view of a small number of widely published corporate viewpoints, must be false simply because it fails to conform to those viewpoints.

      3. noun. A nationalized contempt for science, in the form of popular arguments made by misinformed or corrupt persons.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Seegras (profile), 5 Jan 2018 @ 4:36pm

    Do campaign promises the candidates don't intend to hold onto when elected count as fake news?

    Like "Macron has promised to boost France's slow economic growth, battle high unemployment and promote competitiveness by reforming the labor market and simplifying the tax and pension systems." -- which obviously in hindsight looks quite like fake news (even if he tried)...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2018 @ 4:45pm

    Definition of "macron": lunatic

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2018 @ 6:06pm

    Power over internet

    / "whoever has the power to order such content taken down will have plenty of opportunities to abuse that power..." //



    ... so even government regulatory agencies and fairly elected heads-of-state will ultimately abuse any power they may acquire to control internet content ?

    Power corrupts ? Somebody should write that down.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2018 @ 2:40am

    What even would the legal definition of 'fake news' be? News that is demonstrably false? Does it have to be demonstrably false at the time of publication or does debunking after the fact count? Does something not newsworthy but true count as 'fake news' since it isn't really news? Does news that is unverifiable, so potentially true or false, count? What about news that relies on witnesses or personal accounts that can't be corroborated?

    If it is going to become a legal issue, this needs to be understood before not after cases hit a judge.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Coyne Tibbets (profile), 6 Jan 2018 @ 3:30am

      Re:

      The effective definition would be, "News that the establishment doesn't agree with." If that sounds kind of like scary censorship, well there you go.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 6 Jan 2018 @ 4:34am

      Re:

      Most often it means fabricated versions of events that do really happen. In other words it is lazy media who re-create something because reporting the real story is too hard.

      On other occasions it can mean the faking of extra instances of (real) events in order to reinforce a point of view.

      Note that in both cases the fake news has little trouble getting past a threshold of plausibility because reality has already prepared the ground

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Killercool (profile), 6 Jan 2018 @ 10:25am

    It writes itself...

    He'll need a group of people to administer these rules, to form a ministry. And since they'll be mandated with eliminating what the government declares 'fake news', it's obvious what their title would be.

    Macron is proposing a Ministry of Truth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 2:46am

    Character encoding

    > the &‌Eacute;lys&‌eacute;e palace

    Do you want to try that again? Or at least fallback to Elysee.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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