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ELECTION

Trump fans ‘go online disguised as French’ to help Le Pen’s election hopes

Donald Trump supporters are reportedly planning to disguise themselves as French social media users and bombard Facebook pages in France with "anti-François Fillon shit posting", all in a bid to help the National Front's Marine Le Pen win the presidential election.

Trump fans 'go online disguised as French' to help Le Pen's election hopes
Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

On Tuesday night the website Buzzfeed posted a story that might concern the likes of François Fillon, Emmanuel Macron and other candidates in the upcoming French presidential election. Although perhaps not Marine Le Pen.

The article was titled: “Trump Supporters Online Are Pretending To Be French To Manipulate France’s Election” and suggested fans of the controversial US president were now mobilizing to help Trump admirer Marine Le Pen in her battle for the Elysée Palace.

The report included images from a private chatroom they had gained access to called “The Great Liberation of France”, hosted on a messaging platform called Discord.

It revealed how Trump supporters are organising online to create fake French accounts on social media.

Using the fake profiles with names such as FN_LePen_2016, the screenshots show how they plan to take to the comments sections of French Facebook pages as well as targeting pro-FN Twitter trends and Reddit posts.

One of their tactics is to fill the comments of popular pages with jokes mocking Les Republicains candidate Francois Fillon – the favourite to beat Le Pen in the crucial runoff vote next May – as well as pro-FN memes.

 “They go their [sic] for the news but will be de facto subjected to our meme magic in the comments section” one of their messages read.

“We hit them with our memes, anti-Fillon shitposting”.

Photo: Buzzfeed News

The idea is to boost the popularity and legitimacy of National Front candidate Marine Le Pen to encourage another populist presidential win after the election of Donald Trump in the US, Buzzfeed reports.

Members of the chatroom are advised to create profiles that go against the popular image of FN supporters in order to make it appear that the party is more popular with certain groups than it is.

“Ideally young, cute girl, gay, Jew, basically anyone who isn’t supposed to be pro-FN”, said chatroom head @trumpwin2016.

Photo: Buzzfeed News

The English-speaking group make the accounts appear genuinely French by using pre-made French meme templates checked over by a French-speaking “national operative”.

They also have a GoogleDoc for members to fill in relevant information and instructions to make the posts seem believably French. It includes information on what issues concern people in the country, the “dark past” of the opposing candidate and what memes are popular.

The nationality of the members isn’t clear, some evidence suggests involvement of Russian fascist supporters. “Right now there is this loose sort of alliance between Russian neo-fascists like Alexander Dugin and the international alt-right,” Buzzfeed’s anonymous source within the group said.

“The shared agenda is to get far right, pro-Russian politicians elected worldwide.”

The group plans to target “upcoming events” in several countries, including the Austrian, Italian, Dutch and German elections under the slogan MEGA (Make Everything Great Again). 

Marine Le Pen is an admirer of Donald Trump and was quick to congratulate him on his election win in November.

Earlier this month she told reporters how Donald Trump would be good for France.

On a recent trip to New York she was pictured having a coffee in Trump Tower, but her aides insisted no meeting with the US president took place.

While a Le Pen victory in France is still seen as an outside bet, many political experts now agree that after Trump and Brexit, the idea of “President Marine Le Pen” can no longer be dismissed.

 

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TAXES

France aims for US digital tax deal by late August, despite Trump opposition

France wants to reach a deal with the US on taxing tech giants by a G7 meeting in late August, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said Saturday.

France aims for US digital tax deal by late August, despite Trump opposition
French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire. Photo: AFP

He was responding to US President Donald Trump, who on Friday vowed “substantial” retaliation against France for a law passed this month on taxing digital companies even if their headquarters are elsewhere.

The law would affect US-based global giants like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, among others.

Trump denounced French President Emmanuel Macron's “foolishness”, though they discussed the issue by phone on Friday, according to the White House.

Macron confirmed that he had a “long” conversation with Trump, stressing the pair would “continue to work together in view of the G7”.

“We will discuss international taxation, trade and collective security”, he said Saturday.

His office earlier said Macron had told Trump that the tax on the tech giants was not just in France's interest but was something they both had a stake in.

Neither side revealed if they had also discussed Trump's threat to tax French wines in retaliation.

Le Maire took the same line at a news conference Saturday: “We wish to work closely with our American friends on a universal tax on digital activities.

“We hope between now and the end of August — the G7 heads of state meeting in Biarritz — to reach an agreement.”

Leaders of the Group of Seven highly industrialised countries are to meet in the southwestern French city on August 24-26.

Le Maire emphasised that “there is no desire to specifically target American companies,” since the three-percent tax would be levied on revenues generated from services to French consumers by all of the world's largest tech firms, including Chinese and European ones. 

But Deputy White House spokesman Judd Deere noted earlier that France's digital services tax was already the subject of an investigation at the US Trade Representative's office, potentially opening the door to economic sanctions.

“The Trump administration has consistently stated that it will not sit idly by and tolerate discrimination against US-based firms,” Deere said in a statement. 

The French law aims to plug a taxation gap that has seen some internet heavyweights paying next to nothing in European countries where they make huge profits, because their legal base is in smaller EU states.

France has said it would withdraw the tax if an international agreement was reached, and Paris hopes to include all OECD countries by the end of 2020.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is a Paris-based forum that advises the world's advanced economies.

READ ALSO: 'I like the way they look': Teetotaler Trump prefers US wine to French

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