Did disinformation on social networks have a real influence on the results of the last presidential election?
No, according to a study published on Tuesday.
Attempts at manipulation during the electoral period in 2022 were numerous, but their effects in calling into question the sincerity of the ballot would therefore have remained limited.
"We were lucky in 2022" because the "problematic" content observed online remained confined to certain "communities", told AFP Théophile Lenoir, associate researcher at the Institut Montaigne and co-director of the study, to which the organizations Checkfirst, the Institute of Complex Systems (CNRS), the Geode research center (University of Paris 8) and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) contributed in particular.
The mobilization of public authorities on issues of disinformation, the influence of traditional media on the media agenda and the verification networks set up by several media (including AFP) with platforms have notably contributed to the resilience of the system. French informational, according to the report.
However, the development of speeches which question the validity of the polls, the counting of votes or contest the legitimacy of the re-election of Emmanuel Macron, worries the researchers.
They have notably spotted theories directly imported from the United States, such as an alleged secret agreement between the State and Dominion.
This company had been accused by Donald Trump and his supporters of having facilitated fraud during the 2020 American elections, to distort the results of the votes in favor of the incumbent president.
The researchers also noted a "coordinated inauthentic behavior" concerning the presidential campaign of Eric Zemmour, to artificially amplify fake polls on social networks.
Russia's limited influence
According to the report, the war in Ukraine and the disappearance of the media Russia Today and Sputnik from major European platforms has "weakened the arsenal of influence" of Russia, singled out for its interference in previous polls in the Western world.
The destabilization strategies thus came this year from domestic players.
"The foreign influence that we feared so much is not so necessary to spread rhetoric aimed at questioning the legitimacy of democratic institutions", estimates Iris Boyer, co-director of the study and general secretary of the ISD France.
Among the avenues for reflection, the report recommends deepening the regulation of large platforms and improving the analytical capacity of broadcast groups on messaging applications, including Telegram, for researchers.
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