There has been much talk during the past year of Fake News. Of course, Donald Trump is the reason for almost all of it and also claims to have invented the term (sorry Donald, that is just one of your thousands of lies). Republicans and, yes, the Toddler-in-Chief scream about fake news whenever someone presents an article that offers criticism or inconvenient information that doesn’t fit their narrative.
Fake news actually began to get significant attention in 2016 when word surfaced that Russian hackers and link farms were spreading fake stories about Hillary Clinton. How much influence did these lies have in the election results? We will probably never know, but it would be very naïve (let’s just say it, fake news) to suggest that they had none at all.
One hopes that people will mark their ballot based on knowledge acquired through accurate sources. However, with word that Russia continues to meddle in elections overseas, one country is taking significant action. France announced that is going to suppress fake information circulated in the run-up to elections.
Of course, this may sound good on paper and seems even better if it means no country is subjected to leadership from a grotesque incompetent like Trump. Whenever a government announces that it plans to exercise a form of media control, however, there is good reason to be worried as this is a practice of just about every authoritarian power imaginable.
Who is to decide what is fake? It is easy to imagine any government slapping that label on any story that paints them in a bad light and cannot be easily dismissed. As an adult, wouldn’t you like to retain your element of choice when it comes to the news?
It’s a difficult question and until a way can be found to destroy Russia’s meddling, be prepared for more such controversies to come.
More on the situation in France: