Washington, D.C. – The Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) at the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) today launched the 2022 French Election Dashboard, an interactive, open-source tool that will provide summary analysis of narratives promoted by influential foreign and domestic actors during this year’s presidential election in France.

The dashboard tracks the outputs of Russian and Chinese government officials and state-owned media, as well as other foreign state-owned media outlets, targeting French audiences on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and state media websites. The dashboard also collects data on Twitter accounts and Facebook pages from French domestic media outlets, as well as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accounts and channels connected to the major French presidential candidates and affiliated political actors, allowing users to compare foreign and domestic messaging.

“In order to understand foreign influence, it is essential to understand the domestic information landscape. This tool provides users with the ability to not only track the narratives being promoted by potentially malign foreign actors, but also the ways in which those narratives converge and diverge from the topics and themes discussed by the French media and politicians,” said Bret Schafer, head of ASD’s information manipulation team

“For years, authoritarian states have sponsored information manipulation efforts that have damaged the French democratic debate. By presenting the content produced by media outlets owned by several of those states in a clear and convenient format, this dashboard aims to facilitate the work of all those who seek to better understand, dissect, and expose these manipulation efforts,” said Etienne Soula, research analyst at ASD.

The tool is part of the 2022 French Election Project, an initiative from ASD and GMF Paris, which aims to build resilience to autocratic efforts to interfere in France’s election. Preliminary dashboard findings include:

  1. Russian state media gains traction pushing anti-public health messages: On YouTube, 19 of the 20 most viewed Russian state media videos from RT France and Sputnik France in the past two months promoted narratives critical of vaccines and/or France’s coronavirus mitigation measures.
  2. Russian talking points about Ukraine have penetrated French political discourse: Fringe candidate François Asselineau had two of the 10 most retweeted Ukraine-related tweets. In both, he followed the Russian line of accusing the Canadian army of training “neo-Nazi militias” in Ukraine.
  3. RT France is far-reaching: On Facebook, RT France has a following roughly equivalent to CNEWS or France Inter, and over the past year it has ranked among the top 20 most interacted-with media pages targeting French audiences on Facebook.

Access the 2022 French Elections Dashboard here: https://securingdemocracy.gmfus.org/french-election/

Read our findings here: https://securingdemocracy.gmfus.org/top-5-takeaways-from-the-french-election-dashboard/

Reporters interested in an interview about the project should reach out to press@securingdemocracy.org.

The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.