Facebook has suspended 30,000 French accounts that were supportive of Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen on Friday.
Facebook Inc announced its intentions to suspend the accounts on Thursday, claiming the move was part of an effort to stop the spread of fake news ahead of the French elections.
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However, critics argue that the suspension, just ten days before the hotly contested election, is designed to censor Marine Le Pen as her popularity continues to soar.
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Facebook has come under extreme pressure from Germany and France recently as European leaders have suggested new laws and fines unless the social media giant quickly removes content they deem “alternative.”
Facebook has already rolled out a program in France to use third-party fact-checkers to combat so-called fake news in users’ feeds.
In a blog post, Facebook said it was acting against 30,000 accounts in France that were the most influential and popular.
The company said Thursday it’s trying to “reduce the spread of material generated through inauthentic activity, including spam, misinformation, or other deceptive content that is often shared by creators of fake accounts.”
It said its efforts “enabled us to take action” against the French accounts and that it is removing sites with the highest traffic.
Facebook and French media are also running fact-checking programs in France to combat misleading information, especially around the campaign for the two-round April 23-May 7 presidential election.
European authorities have also pressured Facebook and Twitter to remove extremist propaganda or other postings that violate European hate speech or other laws.