Sunday

19th Jan 2020

US alt-right joins Russia in anti-Macron attack

  • Macron (r) to be attacked as effeminate, elitist, and sexually deviant (Photo: leweb.net)

Right-wing US and UK media and social media users have tried to start an online “war” to stop Emmanuel Macron being elected, but with little success.

The Atlantic Council, a think tank in Washington, and Buzzfeed, a US online publication, highlighted the new campaign in the run-up to the second round of the French presidential vote on Sunday (7 May).

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With Russia already in the spotlight for anti-Macron fake news and cyber attacks, the Atlantic Council said the “English-language alt-right” was also trying to sway EU politics.

It described the alt-right movement as being “marked by nationalist, anti-Islam, and anti-globalisation sentiment” and said its supporters had in the past focused on national issues, such as the US election or the Brexit referendum.

“These [anti-Macron] efforts appear to mark a further stage in the evolution of the alt-right from a collection of largely national actors to a would-be international one”, it said.

It said the efforts began with a post on 4chan.org, an online message board, on 25 April, two days after Macron beat Marine Le Pen, a far-right candidate, in the first round of the election.

The 4chan.org post called for a “total meme war” against Macron.

“We must bombard French social media with pro-Le Pen propaganda, to remind the French who is on their side”, it said.

A meme is a catchy image or idea designed to go viral on the internet.

The post said one anti-Macron meme should be designed to appeal to centre-right French voters by suggesting he was weak on immigration and security. It said a second meme should appeal to the left by showing him as a “banker capitalist pig”.

The post linked to a UK far-right YouTube channel, The Thinkery, which gave meme-making tips.

The same day, a US alt-right publication, Liberty Blitzkrieg, ran a story that called Macron a “banker puppet” and that was replicated by seven other alt-right media.

The following day, on 26 April, alt-right accounts linked to Britain, Germany, and the Netherlands called for the creation of a “Macron Antoinette” meme on the reddit.com online message board.

The idea was to both “emasculate” Macron and to make him look elitist by reference to the old French aristocracy.

The Thinkery’s video had been viewed 144,000 times by Saturday (29 April), but the #MacronAntoinette hash tag had attracted just a handful of posts.

“These memes are unlikely to have a significant impact on the French election”, the Atlantic Council said.

Buzzfeed, in an article last week, said alt-right users of 4chan.org also tried to spread the unsubstantiated accusation that Macron was having an affair with his step-daughter, Tiphaine Auziere, but that it failed to catch on.

The alt-right memes echoed anti-Macron fake news in Russian state media in recent months.

Russian media claimed he was an agent of US bankers, that he was funded by Saudi Arabia, and that he had a gay love affair in stories spread online by Russian trolls and bots.

Some social media users who spread the 4chan.org anti-Macron memes had in the past also reposted Kremlin content.

East Stratcom, a counter-propaganda unit in the EU foreign service, has started to include stories by Breitbart, the leading US alt-right publication, in its review of Russian disinformation.

A European diplomat, who asked not to be named, also told EUobserver that US sleuths, the FBI, were investigating potential links between Breitbart and the Kremlin.

Stratcom has included Breitbart stories due to their similarity to Kremlin anti-migrant material, but did not claim they worked together.

The European diplomat said right-wing online media often echoed Russian propaganda because they had the same ideology rather than due to shady ties.

Breitbart’s London office could not be reached for comment.

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