The Russian Foreign Ministry has announced plans to combat “fake news” by setting up a new section on its website designed to counter and “expose” foreign media publications.
The Kremlin announced the move to combat what it considers “fake news” about the Russian government being spread by foreign news agencies. Spokeswoman Maria Sakharova spoke at length on the topic of “fake news” during a briefing earlier this week and slammed western media sources for stories involving “Russian hackers” that she claimed were false.
“Quite soon, we will launch our own project on the official Foreign Ministry website where we will collect “fake news” from leading foreign media outlets and the statements of official representatives of various countries,” Sakharova said, adding, “We will expose them, publish original sources and data, and we will prove that the Russian side has already responded to the specific issues in question. We will work on this.”
She noted that the French independent presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron was said to be the latest victim of Russian hacking saying that his movement En Marche had claimed to have been undergoing cyberattacks. “One gets the impression that Mr Macron is trying to one-up Hillary Clinton. This is a dubious path,” she said and accused En Marche leader Richard Ferrand of spreading “fake news.”
Macron is now considered the most likely opponent for anti-mass migration candidate and Front National leader Marine Le Pen who leads the polls in the first round.
Macron has benefitted in polls due to former favourite Francois Fillon losing support due to a scandal involving him paying his family large sums of taxpayer money.
Many in the media and Macron himself have accused both Fillon and Le Pen of being too pro-Russia, to which Ms. Sakharova commented, “Why do a strong Europe and a friendly position towards Russia seem mutually exclusive? When did Russia perceive a strong Europe as an enemy?”
Regarding the “fake news” phenomenon, Sakharova said that it was unusual that so many outlets report the same thing and made the same mistakes with their reporting.
She said, “We see the same mistakes repeated. They not only repeat allegations of hackers and “fake news,” but copy the exact mistakes in different countries. One gets the impression that these instructions originated in the same place, and that they are being distributed all over.”
Germany also announced a similar plan to combat “fake news” by setting up a new division within its Interior Ministry. The creation of the “defence centre against disinformation” was announced by the government in December to combat misinformation leading into the upcoming federal election in September.