First Draft teams in London, New York and Sydney, as well as across Europe and India, are monitoring social media and closed messaging apps. For more in-depth information about the content highlighted here, you can apply to join our CrossCheck community.
Macron’s positive Covid-19 test fuels criticism and baseless claims
French President Emmanuel Macron tested positive for the coronavirus today, sparking a wide range of narratives online. Reports that he attended a working dinner that ran past midnight with other government members yesterday is leading to claims of hypocrisy, as France is in strict lockdown and has an 8 p.m. national curfew. (Indoor gatherings are permitted in some circumstances, and reports say that physical distancing measures were followed.) One account wrote, “The kings of the world, they do whatever they want...” in a Facebook post that attracted at least 14,200 interactions, including 6,600 shares.
Other accounts are suggesting without evidence that Macron will be treated with hydroxychloroquine, initially touted as a Covid-19 treatment and whose most visible French proponent remains Dr. Didier Raoult, despite evidence it doesn’t work. A small number of social media users are also baselessly claiming that Macron’s announcement is a publicity stunt to get people to accept a Covid-19 vaccine. A Facebook Page dedicated to poetry and humor posted: “Do you believe it?? Not me, this is yet another Macron strategy to be better able to persuade people to get vaccinated ... !!!” in a post with at least 2,300 shares. — Bethan John
Conspiracy theories spread ahead of US election security report
Promoters of false claims that the US election was stolen from President Donald Trump are speculating that he will order extreme measures when he receives an intelligence report, due tomorrow, on foreign interference in the vote. One unverified Twitter user with over 69,000 followers asked, “Can we just go ahead with The insurrection Act, 2018 EO and round up and arrest those working against our Country?????” referencing the 2018 order mandating the report by the intelligence community. Another unverified user tweeted that the order “IS ABOUT TO BLOW THE LID OFF EVERYTHING!!” in a post with at least 1,300 interactions. Pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell suggested to the far-right The Epoch Times that the intelligence report could trigger unprecedented presidential powers for Trump, with commentator Cesare Sacchetti citing the interview and adding that “Trump can foil the coup by next Friday.”
Contrary to the idea of Friday as a day of reckoning, the executive order mandating this report does not give Trump “unilateral authority to take action” such as ordering arrests or military action, but instead could be used to sanction foreign entities accused of interference. There is also reason to doubt that the report will be issued on time. John Ratcliffe, Trump’s director of national intelligence, is reportedly considering turning it in late because he believes it downplays China’s involvement. — Madelyn Webb