french election

French election: tech companies counter fake news; candidate speaks via hologram

Facebook, Google and a group of news organisations have launched an initiative to tackle fake news stories in France as the media attracts greater scrutiny in the run up to the country’s presidential election.

Facebook said it would work with several leading French news organisations, including Agence France-Presse, BFM TV, and newspapers L’Express and Le Monde to ensure that false news items were not published on its platform.

Google also said it was part of the initiative, dubbed “Cross Check” by the partners.

Facebook has faced criticism that it did not do enough to prevent false information being republished on its platform during last year’s U.S presidential campaign, and in response has set up measures to try to tackle the problem.

There have been similar concerns that people could disseminate false information on Facebook in the build-up to the French election, which takes place in April and May.

In the United States, Facebook has said users would in future find it easier to flag fake articles as a hoax, and added that it will work with organizations such as fact-checking website Snopes, ABC News and the Associated Press to check the authenticity of stories.

Last month, Facebook also set up an initiative against fake news in Germany, where government officials had expressed concerns that false stories and hate speech online could influence a parliamentary election in September in which chancellor Angela Merkel will seek a fourth term in office.

Researchers from Indiana University have also developed a tool for monitoring the spread of fake news stories via social media. 

Meanwhile, far-left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon was keen to demonstrate his technological credentials during the launch of his presidential campaign at a rally in Lyon on Sunday. In addition to the Lyon rally, he spoke simultaneously via a 3D hologram at another event in Paris (pictured).

Melenchon, wearing a Nehru-style jacket, tried to use the hologram technology give a modern look to his launch, which coincided with that of the far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

But he is not the first politician to employ such technology, in 2014, then-Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan used a huge hologram of himself to attract wider support, while India’s Narendra Modi trounced the opposition with a campaign that included holograms of his speeches in villages across the country.

The technology has also been used in other mediums such as music concerts. Deceased musician Ronnie James Dio was recently resurrected for select performances with members of his band using old live audio of him performing. 

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