France says anti-fake news election law incoming

President Emmanuel Macron during his New Year's Eve address                  France24 screengrab

President Emmanuel Macron during his New Year's Eve address France24 screengrab

French President Emmanuel Macron has proposed legislation to crack down on the spread of fake news, particularly around elections - a move which has voices on both the left and right nervous about whether it would curb press freedom.

During last year's presidential election, Macron blasted Russia-owned news outlets RT and Sputnik for publishing stories about him that he said were not true.

"If we want to protect liberal democracies, we must be strong and have clear rules", Macron said, according to the Guardian.

French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rapidly push through economic and political changes in France over the coming months and said he would seek to jolt Europe into reforming too.

Macron reiterated earlier calls to European voters to get involved in continent-wide parliamentary elections due in 2019.

While Theresa May has warned social media giants to shape up or face fines, France, Germany and Ireland are instituting new laws to target fake news.

The President said there would also be strict "limits on the amount" of sponsored content, and more power would be given to the CSA, France's media watchdog.

In his new year's speech to the press, the Head of State explained that the legislation will emphasize the electoral period, in order to strengthen the rules regarding the responsibility of information.

Over in the USA, under mounting political pressure on the issue, Facebook has already said it will increase transparency around political advertising on its platform by requiring ads to include a disclosure stating which page paid for an ad and also give users the ability to visit the advertiser's page to see all the ads they're now running to any audience on Facebook.

He says in case of fake news, an emergency legal action could allow authorities to suppress that content or even close the website.

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