Almost one in four of the internet links shared by French users of social media in the run-up to elections were related to fake news, much of which favoured anti-EU candidates and showed traces of Russian influence, according to a new study. The survey, by a UK-based firm, Bakamo, published on 19 April, looked at 800 websites and almost 8 million links shared between 1 November and 4 April.

19.2 percent of links related to media that did not “adhere to journalistic standards” and that expressed “radical opinions … to craft a disruptive narrative” fell under what the study called the “reframe” category. A further 5 percent related to “narratives [that were] often mythical, almost theological in nature” or discussed “conspiracy theories” fell under what it called the “alternative” section.

The sources shared in these categories favoured anti-EU candidates both on the far right and the far left: Marine Le Pen, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Francois Asselineau, and Philippe Poutou. They also favoured Francois Fillon, a centre-right candidate who is friendly toward Russia.

Bakamo’s research found that one in five sources in the reframe section were exposed to influence by Russian state media known for spreading anti-EU disinformation, such as RT or Sputnik, […]