An ad campaign launched by the French government to encourage people to register to vote has hit an embarrassing snag: Twitter won’t run the ads, as the company fears they may violate the new French law targeting fake news.
The Elysee hoped to inspire citizens to register to vote in the European elections ahead of the upcoming deadline by paying for sponsored tweets promoting the hashtag #OuiJeVote (Yes, I Vote). But the seemingly innocuous ad campaign faced an unexpected hurdle: France’s recently-passed anti-fake-news legislation, which places strict rules on online political campaigns. The law states that all political ads must indicate who paid for them and how much was spent.
Fearing that the ad may violate the law passed by President Emmanuel Macron’s own government, Twitter refused to run the ad.
The decision stunned French lawmakers and officials.
“I thought it was an April Fools!” tweeted MP Naima Moutchou.
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. @cedric_o https://t.co/fpZwcKI9u3
— Naïma Moutchou (@NaimaMoutchou) April 2, 2019
Interior Minister Christophe Castanter expressed similar disbelief.
“Twitter’s priority should be to fight content that glorifies terrorism. Not campaigns to register on the electoral lists of a democratic republic,” he wrote.
Read more: Macron own goal? Twitter blocks government ad campaign to comply with French fake-news law