July 24, 2021

How right-wing trolls spread fake news to influence French elections

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Fake news was very much a part of U.S. elections last year and now it’s trickled into the French elections as well.

During the presidential debate Wednesday night, Front National candidate Marine Le Pen, who runs on an anti-EU, far-right agenda, raised the allegationthat the election’s frontrunner, the centrist Emmanuel Macron, was engaging in tax evasion with an offshore account in the Cayman Islands.

“I hope that we will not find out that you have an offshore account in the Bahamas,” Le Pen said during the heated debate.

Le Pen later backed down on her accusations, saying she doesn’t have any proof. Macron filed a defamation complaint. “We will not hesitate to prosecute for defamation anyone who repeats this false information,” a member of his team said, adding that the candidate was victim of a “cyber information campaign.”

An anonymous user alleged that two leaked documents, posted in the thread, were proof that Macron, a former investment banker, had a professional relationship with a bank involved in tax evasion in the Cayman Islands.

“People have known for a while that Macron underreported his income and assets to the government, but nobody knew where it was stored,” the user said, “Here’s where his money is stored. See what you can do with this, anon. Let’s get grinding. If we can get #MacronCacheCash trending in France for the debates tonight, it might discourage French voters from voting Macron.”

The attempt to spread the story by getting a hashtag, #MacronCacheCash, to trend is a tactic seen in the U.S. election.

The hashtag was tweeted by apparently U.S.-based, right-wing accounts in an attempt to make the story viral.

According to Nicolas Vanderbiest, a Belgian commentator for Radio France Culture, the Twitter accounts were linked, in France, to Sputnik and Russia Today.

Disobedient Media, a U.S. right-wing media organisation, published an article accusing Macron of setting up a tax evasion mechanism.

The two leaked documents allegedly show the “incorporation of a shell company in Nevis, a country that doesn’t keep ownership records of corporation” and the proof “of a banking relationship with a bank involved in tax evasion in the Cayman Islands.”

However, the Macron campaign in their press release was quick to debunk those claims. First of all, his signature looks counterfeited.

Also, the documents have two different names for Macron’s company — “La Providence LLC” and “La Providence LTD”; there’s no co-signer in the first document; the second document has only one page; the use of a fax machine; and the date of signature of the first document, 4 May 2012.

Macron has denied having bank accounts in the Bahamas.

“I’ve never had an account in any tax havens because it’s not my temperament and also because I’ve always wanted to return to the public affairs,” he said.

“It’s typical of fake news. Marine Le Pen is behind this and she’s backed by troops on the internet that plant them. All of this is factually false,” he added.


For more on this story go to: http://mashable.com/2017/05/04/pro-trump-fake-news-emmanuel-macron-marine-le-pen/#k8uBFFZ4pOqZ

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