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government site against “infox” irritates media

French Minister of Solidarity and Health, Olivier Véran (left), and government spokesperson, Sibeth Ndiaye, during a press conference at the Palais de l'Elysée in Paris on May 2. FRANCOIS MORI / AFP

This is a Tweet from Sibeth Ndiaye, who set fire to the powder. “The # COVID19 crisis favors the spread of #fakenews, wrote, Thursday, April 30, the government spokeswoman on the social network. More than ever, there is a need to trust trusted and verified sources of information. This is why the @gouvernementFR site now offers a dedicated space “.

A click on “Désinfox coronavirus”, and we effectively unroll a thread of articles drawn from the fact-checking sections of the media – Les Décodeurs pour The world, CheckNews from Release, AFP Factuel AFP from Agence France-Presse, Fake Off of 20 minutes or True or fake from FranceTVInfo). “No, it’s not the Prevotella bacteria that kills Covid-19 patients” “Street dance in 18e Paris arrondissement: what happened? “Why these comparisons between the prices of French and Spanish masks make no sense” … The articles are linked, without hierarchy, logic or comments.

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The initiative is not to the liking of the editors concerned, who discover that they are participating, so to speak without knowing it, of their own free will, in a section entitled “Learn about disinformation” created for the government website at the suggestion of the GIS (Government Information Service, which reports to Matignon). The world was not consulted beforehand, and it goes without saying that we would have refused this type of approach “, then tweets Luc Bronner, managing editor.

“Distrust and suspicion”

Put online on April 23, the column prospered discreetly before Sibeth Ndiaye promoted it and thus created controversy. “These papers disseminated on our various media found themselves used, instrumentalized, on a platform which is called government.fr”, launched, outraged, Vincent Giret, the director of Franceinfo. Gold “Our most precious asset is our independence, corroborates Paul Quinio, managing editor of Release. This kind of operation can only introduce distrust and suspicion about the relations between the press and the political world “. “Our approach was based on a commendable intention, do we defend ourselves in those around the government.

Alarmed “The excessive number of” fake news “that can endanger the health of French people”, the GIS indeed sought to strengthen its fight against disinformation. What he did, using directly in headings stamped as such, easily identifiable, effectively eliminating all publications without an ad hoc section … and posing, in fact, as an arbitrator of journalistic practices.

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