In early March, the fake news website lesoir.info published an article about the supposed funding of Macron’s campaign by Saudi Arabia. The site is designed to look like an actual Belgian newspaper called lesoir.be, which quickly denounced the story as fake. Other news sites also shared the story before back-pedaling after Soir’s denial. Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, a National Front MP and the niece of National Front candidate Marine Le Pen, tweeted the story as well but later deleted it.
The French Facebook page “I Support Our Firefighters” posted a photo of a firefighter poked in the eye “by thugs” and accused the media of ignoring the story. This fake image, which was shared more than 130,000 times, compares a young black victim of police violence named Théo, who President François Hollande visited in the hospital, to Quentin the firefighter alone in his hospital bed. But the meme recycles and twists an old photo: The firefighter was accidentally injured by a Flash-ball fired by police on the sidelines of a demonstration in 2013.
The day after the televised presidential debate on TF1, National Front treasurer Wallerand de Saint-Just published a falsified Figaro poll that received hundreds of shares. The image of the “results” had Figaro’s logo on it, and claimed that 32% of respondents said Marine Le Pen had been the most convincing candidate in the debate. However, this poll was nowhere to be found on Figaro’s website, and the publication denied any role in creating the image. The National Front official then corrected himself, but blamed Figaro for taking too long to react to “its error.”
This fake tweet went viral on several Facebook and Twitter pages, some belonging to National Front opponents. The tweet says that Le Pen was “shocked” by the Russian cartoon Masha and the Bear, since the young girl, Masha, is wearing a “veil.” Le Pen caused a stir when she refused to wear a headscarf on a visit to Lebanon. But this tweet is fake.
Tweets like this, shared more than a hundred times, claim to show Mélenchon sporting a Rolex watch worth €17,750 — at odds with his radical left political leanings. The crude photo montage dates back to April 2016 and frequently reappears on Twitter accounts and Facebook pages affiliated with France’s far-right. The self-proclaimed environmental activist who started the post has affirmed over and over again that it was not intended as propaganda but as a joke.
The Facebook page “We Love France” accused Jean-Luc Mélenchon of having championed the National Front in the past, based on an incomplete photocopy of an interview with Quotidien de Paris from December 25th, 1991. “The only party that rehabilitates politics is the National Front,” the headline read, but the quote is truncated and does not praise Marine Le Pen’s party. That didn’t stop the post from getting 15,000 shares in less than 24 hours and a ton of pro-National Front comments. Here’s Mélenchon’s full quote from that interview: “The Socialist Party has abandoned politics. I will tell you something awful: Today, the party that rehabilitates politics is the National Front.”
Pierre Gaudin, an outspoken supporter of Marine Le Pen on Facebook, posted a photo in February of a severely wounded “French policeman,” denouncing public delinquency and an inadequate government response. In fact, the picture, which was already shared on social media last year, dates back to February 2014, and was taken by a Reuters photographer during an anti-government demonstration in Thailand. You can see a small Thai police insignia on the man’s right arm.
The picture has been shared nearly 7,000 times since Feb. 20. It’s also been reused in different contexts: as an example of “violence” during protests against the labor law, and tweeted by National Front official Wallerand de Saint-Just in April 2016.
A Facebook post from the page “The Left Has Killed Me” accused the Paris city hall of having demolished a lighthouse to build studios for migrants in its place. The lighthouse, which dates back to the ’90s, was in fact demolished in early February, and will be replaced by “a social residence of 251 studios for students, young workers and migrant workers,” according to a Parisien article quoted in the post. However, the deceptively titled post was shared 2,700 times on Facebook.
Boum : Benoît Hamon vient d’être mis en examen (évidemment, silence média) https://t.co/FLNfotfEdf
— Louis Aliot (@louis_aliot)
In early March, Louis Aliot, vice president of the National Front, shared a Dreuz.info article on Twitter that said Benoît Hamon had been indicted. Aliot was especially outraged by the “media silence” on the development. He accused journalists of having double standards for presidential candidates — Fillon and Le Pen have been indicted over misappropriation of public funds.Hamon ~has~ been indicted, but the indictment dates back to Dec. 7, 2016, and is over an “insult toward an individual” rather than anything to do with corruption. (In France, when someone files a complaint against you for an insult or libel, you get automatically indicted. Many public figures have been indicted for libel or insult.)
Several National Front officials and right-leaning French-Israeli lawyer Gilles-William Goldnadel have circulated a video of an April 17 demonstration against the National Front, claiming that protesters chanted “Jews, thieves, murderers.” But they’re actually chanting “cops, rapists, assassins,” a common slogan heard at demonstrations against police violence. Several witnesses present that day support this account. Le Pen adviser Florian Philippot still has a tweet up alluding to “anti-Semitic” words chanted by protesters at the demonstration, though there is no proof of them.
Alors, euh, comment dire ? C’est moi qui ai pris cette photo et c’était au meeting de Fillon à Toulouse. Ou alors j… https://t.co/GSvRHDkcgp
— Hugo Clément (@hugoclement)
Sébastien Foy, a local official who supports François Fillon, tweeted (and then deleted) a photo showing what he said was an empty room at a campaign event for Emmanuel Macron. One can see the black curtains concealing part of the empty rows. Here’s the problem: At the back of the room, you can clearly see a photo of François Fillon.
This particular piece of fake news just won’t quit. The website Cyceon.com wrote that Emmanuel Macron wants to impose a new tax on property owners. There’s nothing on this in the candidate’s policy proposals, but his opponents (especially those who support Republican François Fillon and Marine Le Pen) have latched onto the claim, despite numerous debunks. Other sites, especially Republican Resistance (which shared the photo above) and the satirical, extreme right-wing website BuzzBeed (not to be confused with BuzzFeed, the site you are currently reading) picked up the information.
For more rumors, hoaxes, and fake news circulating during the French election, visit Crosscheck, a collaborative debunking partnership between BuzzFeed News and other media organizations.
This post was translated from French.