Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy sparked outrage in 2005 when he referred to rioting youth in the ethnically diverse Paris suburbs as “racaille” – rabble, or scum. Fifteen years later, President Emmanuel Macron told young French people from migrant backgrounds that they represented an “opportunity for France”.
Far-right French political candidate Thierry Tsagalos used both these expressions in a September 14 Facebook post when he posted a video of an assault on women at a train station, implying that the incident took place in France, and that the attackers were from a migrant background.
Using the online verification tool InVid WeVerify, the Truth or Fake team were able to trace the video back to Ireland. It shows an assault that took place in Dublin in April 2021. The attackers were white Irish and not from migrant backgrounds.
The National Rally’s Tsagalos has since edited his Facebook post. However, his initial post is an example of how right-wing, anti-migrant politicians can instrumentalise online content that has nothing to do with what they are talking about, in a bid to appeal to voters.
The FRANCE 24 team spoke to Barbara Joannon, a specialist in disinformation about migrants, who says that we need to be particularly wary of such politicised content in the run-up to the French presidential elections in 2022. She explained what to watch out for, and how to be on your guard for fake news online.