#MacronLeaks as a “warning shot” for European democracies: challenges to election blackouts presented by social media and election meddling during the 2017 French presidential election

Abstract

Media blackouts or election silence periods feature in several European democracies. However, this article argues that they have become democratic vulnerabilities in the context of increased Internet-based electoral meddling such as during #MacronLeaks. Using both discourse and social network analyses, this study shows that the vacuum created by the inability of politicians and established media outlets to comment on the leaks empowered unregulated and unreliable sources which sought to drag the direction of the election away from the centre and towards the far right. Our findings have broad implications for understanding how social media activity is structured under the conditions of information leaks. The findings of this study may be relevant to other political events which involve the release of sensitive information via social media.

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    Two categories did not contain any narratives important to understanding the political discourses about Macronleaks. One was neutral and retweets which contains no important discursive statements, the other was ‘humour’ which made jokes and parodies about macron leaks. A further 4 categories were not frequent enough to warrant further discussion as they each represented under 5% of the total discussion.

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Downing, J., Ahmed, W. #MacronLeaks as a “warning shot” for European democracies: challenges to election blackouts presented by social media and election meddling during the 2017 French presidential election. Fr Polit 17, 257–278 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41253-019-00090-w

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Keywords

  • Election meddling
  • Election silence
  • Twitter
  • Politics
  • Social media
  • Leaks
  • Hashtags