by Caitlin Race
On Thursday, Twitter said that they have stopped blocking government ads from France. The ads were calling people to vote after applying a law looking to ban fake news. Twitter has since changed their policies after French government officials met with executives from Twitter. “Many exchanges” is what Twitter executives say brought forward the change.
The French Government planned to use a hashtag in a social media campaign to encourage voter turnout for the European parliamentary elections. The hashtag was #OuiJeVote, which translates to Yes I Vote. The elections are set for May 26th.
The campaign looked to promote the hashtag with sponsored tweets, but state that Twitter denied the ads due to not meeting transparency obligations under the French Law that had been put into motion in December.. Therefore, Twitter decided to ban all political ads from France.
The law looked to avoid false information spread around during the campaigns on several social media platforms and required complete transparency. Because of that, whoever is funding political campaigns must reveal their identity and the amount spent on the campaign. This was championed by French President Emmanuel Macron to hold “tech giants accountable for their role in spreading misinformation and dubious propaganda” according to Gizmodo.com.
Officials from France called out the company saying that the focus shouldn’t be on voter registration, but instead stopping content promoting terrorism. Twitter responded by clarifying the police due to protecting the integrity of conversations around the elections. The French Government accept the change, but say it isn’t enough. Fake news is all over the internet and it isn’t enough to stop it.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner tweeted “La priorité de Twitter devrait être de combattre les contenus faisant l’apologie du terrorisme. Pas les campagnes incitant à s’inscrire sur les listes électorales d’une république démocratique. Ce sujet sera abordé jeudi avec les GAFA lors du G7 des ministres de l’Intérieur.”
This translated roughly to “Twitter’s priority should be to fight content that glorifies terrorism. Not campaigns to register on the electoral lists of a democratic republic. This subject will be discussed Thursday with the GAFA during the G7 of the Ministers of the Interior.”
French politician Naïma Moutchou, in response, tweeted “J’ai cru à un poisson d’avril! @Twitter bloque la campagne publique pour les inscriptions sur les listes électorales! Pour ne pas avoir à respecter les règles de transparence anti-#FakeNews. Consternant et illégal.”
This one translated to “I thought of an April Fool! @Twitter blocks public campaign for voter registration! For not having to respect the anti-# FakeNews transparency rules. Appalling and illegal.”
As of now, the advertisements are still unable to be shown on Twitter. The services of the platform have not yet been updated for the required transparency.
Twitter has not responded for a comment about the story and it is hoped by officials and those in France that the policies will be updated in time to post about the campaign. There is just over a month and a half until the primary.