A fake press release from the French National Police purporting to announce a partial internet ban in the country is viral online. BOOM found statements from the National Police and the Foreign Affairs Ministry of France refuting the viral claim.
President Emmanuel Macron held a meeting on July 3 with members of parliament and a second one is scheduled for July 4 regarding the current unrest in France which began after Nahel M, a 17-year-old teenager was shot dead by a police personnel at a traffic stop in Nanterre.
The fake press release is being shared in this context to claim that the internet ban is being imposed to curb the "misuse of social media and online platform to coordinate illegal actions and incite violence." News outlet Scroll.in published a story about this internet ban on July 2, 2023. The story has since been updated; a screenshot of the previous article can be seen below:
The story carried a tweet with the press release attributed to the National Police in French and an English translation. The caption read, "France is planning a shutdown of the nation's internet in an attempt to stop the world from seeing what invaders are doing to the nation."
Click here to view the tweet and here for an archive.
The same press releases are also circulating on Facebook.
This document is FALSE: Director General of French Police
BOOM found that the press release is fake, and the French Police has not ordered any internet bans or shutdowns in the country.
The press release was attributed to the Direction Générale de la Police Nationale, which can be translated to English as the Directorate General of the National Police. Taking a cue from this, we looked for any announcements on the French National Police's official Twitter handle.
There was no recent post confirming the information in the press release, however, we found a tweet from July 1, 2023 that carried a clarification regarding this claim. The tweet read, "Attention: Fake News📃 A press release from @PoliceNationale would announce temporary restrictions on internet access in certain districts. ❌ This document is a FALSE: no decision has been made in this regard."
(Original text in French: 📃Un communiqué de presse de la @PoliceNationale annoncerait des restrictions temporaires à l’accès internet dans certains quartiers. ❌Ce document est un FAUX : aucune décision n’a été prise en ce sens.)
We also found a similar statement from the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs from July 3 calling the document false. The caption reads, "A “press release” from the French national police force @PoliceNationale has claimed that temporary restrictions have been imposed on Internet access in certain neighbourhoods. This document is FALSE: no such decision has been taken."