World

Fake stories flood France ahead of election

FRANCE: French voters are being deluged with false stories on social media ahead of the country's presidential election, though the onslaught of "junk news" is not as severe as that during last year's US presidential campaign, according to a study by Oxford University researchers.

The study published yesterday adds evidence to complaints by officials in France, Germany and the US that Russia is trying to replicate its cyber-powered election meddling in American politics.

Just days before France votes in the first round of a presidential election, the study said misinformation at times has accounted for one-quarter of the political links shared on Twitter in France.

It defined "junk news" as deliberately false stories and those expressing "ideologically extreme, hyper-partisan or conspiratorial" views with logical flaws and opinions passed along as facts.

"French voters are sharing better quality information than what many US voters shared and almost as much quality news and information as German users share," according to the study by the Oxford Internet Institute, which was made available to Reuters before publication.

Another study published this week from private research group Bakamo showed a similar percentage of fake news versus real news on social media in France as that found by the Oxford researchers.

Much of the fake news came from sources that were "exposed to Russian influence," the Bakamo study said. - REUTERS

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