Macron takes on 'fake news' with plans to change France's media laws

Macron: 2018 will be 'decisive' for Europe

Macron: 2018 'decisive year' for Europe to get stronger

French President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he delivers a speech on the European Union in the amphitheater of the Sorbonne University in Paris on September 26, 2017.

He said the planned legislation will impose stricter transparency requirements on online platforms vis-a-vis advertiser content during election periods - by making it a requirement that advertisers' identity be made public.

He also said France would become more strict in its immigration policies with more controls, without providing details.

Speaking to journalists at an annual New Year reception on Wednesday, Macron said he meant to overhaul the country's media laws in order to boost transparency and quash the spread of fake news on social media. He said authorities may be granted emergency legal powers to remove content or block "fake news" websites. He insisted that press freedom could be preserved under such a law.

The formula of the speech was largely in keeping with the one favoured by many of his predecessors, despite speculation Mr Macron would seek to shake up France's New Year presidential rite of passage too.

Macron: 2018 will be 'decisive' for Europe

Le Monde's editorial board described legislation in such an area as press freedom and fake news, where the barriers are fluid and hard to define, as "inherently perilous".

In November, UK Prime Minister Theresa May also directly accused Russian Federation of seeking to meddle in the democratic affairs of other nations by planting fake stories in the media to try to sow discord in the West by "weaponizing information". President Macron said that lies are being propagated over social media at a cost of few thousand euros.

'During the campaign, Russia Today and Sputnik were agents of influence which on several occasions spread fake news about me personally, and about my campaign'.

Turkish Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said at a press conference on January 4 that Macron's remarks are based on a "lack of information", if not "prejudice".

The French citizens become more optimistic about the future compared to the last eight years.

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