Macron: We must fight 'ever-growing virus of fake news'

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday said the world must "fight against the ever-growing virus of fake news," spurring a rousing ovation during his speech to a joint meeting of Congress.

"To protect our democracies, we have to fight against the ever-growing virus of fake news, which exposes our people to irrational fear and imaginary risk,” Macron said. “And let me attribute for a copyright for fake news, especially here."

"Without reason, without truce, there's no real democracy," the 40-year-old leader continued. "Because democracy is about true choices and rational decisions. The corruption of information is an attempt to corrode the very spirit of our democracies."

ADVERTISEMENT


The term "fake news" has become a frequent soundbite since the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

In his speech, Macron appeared to be referring to false stories published on questionable online publications that attempt to appear legitimate in an attempt to dupe voters with misinformation.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand urges opposition to Kavanaugh: Fight for abortion rights 'is now or never' Trump claims tariffs on foreign nations will rescue US steel industry: report Bannon announces pro-Trump movie, operation team ahead of midterms: report MORE has regularly used to the term "fake news" to  attack traditional media outlets in the country like NBC and CNN.

Macron's comments come as Reporters Without Borders dropped the United States to No. 45 in its annual ranking of press freedom for 180 countries around the world in a report released Wednesday.

The ranking continues a downward trend for the U.S. in recent years, with the U.S. finishing No. 43 in 2017 and No. 41 in 2016.

The report suggests President Trump is one of the reasons for the decline.

"The United States, the country of the First Amendment, has fallen again in the Index under Donald Trump, this time two places to 45th," the report says. "A media-bashing enthusiast, Trump has referred to reporters 'enemies of the people,' the term once used by Joseph Stalin."

Macron announced back in January plans for a new law to combat fake news. 

"Thousands of propaganda accounts on social networks are spreading all over the world, in all languages, lies invented to tarnish political officials, personalities, public figures, journalists," Macron told journalists on Jan. 3

"We are going to develop our legal means of protecting democracy against fake news," he added. 

The law has not exited the proposal stage. 

According to data from a 2017 Harvard-Harris poll provided exclusively to The Hill, 65 percent of voters believe there is a lot of fake news in the mainstream media.