Monday

26th Jun 2017

Russia-linked fake news 'lost influence' in France

  • Putin's military intelligence service, the GRU, tried to hack Macron's campaign, a recent study indicated (Photo: kremlin.ru)

Mainstream media have gained ground over bogus news, much of it emanating from Russia, in the run-up to the French vote on Sunday (7 May), a new study said.

One in five links shared by social media users was bogus content between 4 April and 21 April compared to one in four in previous months, the study, by Bakamo, a UK-based consultancy said on Wednesday.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Macron is secretly gay, has shady offshore funds, and is funded by Saudi Arabia, Russia-influenced stories said (Photo: Reuters)

It predicted that sharing of bogus content would decline still further in the next few weeks.

It said 30 percent of the suspect material, accounting for 7 percent of the total content, showed traces of Russian “influence”.

But Pierre Haski, a French journalist who took part in Bakamo’s research, said Russian state “intentional meddling” was hard to disentangle from “like-minded publishers” who shared Russia’s views.

Jonathan Deitch, the Bakamo director, said: “Traditional news sources remain relevant and relied upon by social media users”.

He said sources that “challenge the validity of the traditional media” had “slightly less influence”, but he said that these sites and their readers “remain very active and show no signs of going away.”

Bakamo looked at almost 10 million links to political and elections news from 800 websites, including Russian state media RT France and Sputnik France, as well as “numerous other French-language Russian blogs”.

It said the main “disinformation techniques” were “cloaking articles as if they were published by legitimate sites, reporting nonscientific polls, pulling articles out of historical context, and simple hoaxes”.

“These methods exist alongside Russian narratives designed to attune French readers to messages that create sympathy for pro-Russian positions and the candidates who support them”, it said.

Bakamo’s new report came amid mounting evidence of foreign interference in the French election.

The Oxford Internet Institute, part of Oxford University in the UK, said one in four links shared in France during a sample week in March referenced “junk” articles and that many of these favoured pro-Russia candidates.

British and US activists from the “alt-right” movement, which is anti-EU and pro-Russian, tried to launch an online “war” against Emmanuel Macron, a leading pro-EU candidate, the Atlantic Council, a US think tank, reported.

It said Russian bots, some of which posted links over 750 times a day, were spreading anti-EU content.

Trend Micro, a Tokyo-based firm, also said in April that Russia’s GRU military intelligence service tried to hack Macron’s campaign team.

Bakamo’s report said on Wednesday that some bogus stories which alleged that Macron had offshore funds were originally posted on a message board on the Medipart.fr website, a normal French publisher, in order to give them a “cloak” of credibility.

Other bogus sites attacked Macron by saying that respected media, such as France’s satirical and investigative weekly Le Canard Enchaine, had “censored” content on Macron’s secret funds.

Hoax websites, designed to look like mainstream media, such as Belgian newspaper Le Soir, also made unsubstantiated allegations that Macron was funded by Saudi Arabia.

Bakamo noted that Russian influence was the strongest (one in two links shared) in the most extreme fake news, such as conspiracy theories which alleged that a Zionist cabal was part of an anti-Russian plot.

Russia suspected of Macron hack

Likely Russian spies tried to steal email passwords from Macron's people the same way they hacked US elections, new study says.

Interview

EU visa waiver unlikely to import Ukraine crime

Visa-free travel, which began last week, unlikely to prompt a Ukrainian crime wave, an EU police expert has said, but Ukraine itself is seeing increases in lawlessness.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel on collision course with US at G20 summit
  2. Schulz outlines German election strategy, hits out at Merkel
  3. Berlusconi's party sees comeback in Italian local votes
  4. Low turnout in Albanian election set to mandate EU future
  5. Merkel and Macron hold symbolic joint press conference
  6. Juncker has 'no' clear idea of kind of Brexit UK wants
  7. Belgian PM calls May's proposal on EU citizens 'vague'
  8. UK lacks support of EU countries in UN vote

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan Statin Therapy Interfere With a Physically Active Lifestyle?
  3. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  4. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  5. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  6. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  7. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  8. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  9. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  10. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  11. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  12. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?

Latest News

  1. UK previews offer on EU nationals' rights
  2. EU approves rescue of Italian banks
  3. Cohesion policy for a stronger Europe
  4. Cheap meat is a bigger problem for climate and health
  5. Ministers to reject minimum parking spaces for electric cars
  6. Macron’s investment screening idea watered down by leaders
  7. Leaders unimpressed by May’s offer to EU citizens
  8. New Irish PM praises unscripted nature of EU summits