The investigation journal Mediapart published a survey on April 10 which revealed how French president Emmanuel Macron political party turned to use social networks as an influence tool.
Mediapart revealed a study which brought into light the manipulation of social networks by the French president's political party La Republique en Marche (LREM).
A study conducted by the independent researcher Baptiste Robert showed that LREM attempted to manipulate Twitter traffic at a meeting of Nathalie Loiseau, the French Minister for European Affairs.
From March 29 to April 1, a weekend that saw Act 20 of the yellow vests' movement and the launching of the LREM campaign for the European elections, the investigation team registered all the messages with one of the twenty-one hashtags related to the polls and the presidential party (example of hashtags registered: #LREM, #EnMarche, #JeVotele26Mai…).
After compiling this data, the researcher calculated a "traffic manipulation coefficient" thanks to a tool developed by the Oxford Internet Institute. Results showed that the coefficient of the LREM community is 16 "above the average." Banal keywords are associated with a coefficient between eight and ten. "We can, therefore, deduce an attempt to manipulate the traffic from this community," Baptiste Robert explained to Mediapart.
Mediapart revealed a set of accounts structured around @EnsembleEMacron, described as "one of the most active accounts of the macronist sphere" which would "probably be held by several people" to believe the connection data collected. The study showed how 14 of the 20 most active accounts on the weekend of March 29 belong to the LREM community, which counts 4,626 accounts.
Bonjour, je m'appelle Mireille et le #26Mai je vote pour la liste #RenaissanceEuropeenne parce que je crois en l'Europe proposée par @NathalieLoiseau et toute son équipe. Tous les #MacronistesAnonymes n'oubliez pas tous aux urnes �������� https://t.co/QuRujEuyBX— MamaMimi (@MamaMimi161820) 28 mars 2019
Hello, my name is Mireille and the # 26May I vote for the #RenaissanceEuropeenne list because I believe in Europe proposed by @NathalieLoiseau and all his team. All #MacronistsAnonymous do not forget all at the polls
It is nevertheless complicated to identify who is hiding behind these accounts."This use of social networks can be likened to an astroturfing campaign, described as the artificial simulation of an online opinion movement," Mediapart analyzed.