Information Manipulations Around COVID-19: France Under Attack

Published: July 2020

About this report
Institut Montaigne and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue decided to look at the
circulation of different narratives and pieces of disinformation in French discussion
groups during the pandemic, and analyse the porosity between discussion topics in
France: Does a disinformation piece on migrants travel to anti-technology and naturalist
discussions? Does a message promoting China’s response to the crisis travel to
discussions linked to the Yellow Vest movement – the French protest movement that
started in October 2018? With the help of Linkfluence, a French media monitoring and
digital analysis startup, 37 messages related to COVID-19 were selected, and their
circulation within six thematic communities from 1st December 2019 to 30th April 2020
was then analyzed.

About Institut Montaigne
Institut Montaigne is a nonprofit, independent think tank based in Paris, France. Our mission
is to craft public policy proposals aimed at shaping political debates and decision making
in France and Europe. We bring together leaders from a diverse range of backgrounds
– government, civil society, corporations and academia – to produce balanced analyses,
international benchmarking and evidence-based research. We promote a balanced vision
of society, in which open and competitive markets go hand in hand with equality of
opportunity and social cohesion. Our strong commitment to representative democracy
and citizen participation, on the one hand, and European sovereignty and integration, on
the other, form the intellectual basis for our work.

The Long Tail of Influence Operations: A Case Study on News Front

This case study examines two websites and two blogging accounts which appear to be linked to News Front, a Crimean-based news organisation previously accused of being a source of pro-Kremlin disinformation and influence operations. While the impact of the site’s activity is low, the case study provides a glimpse into the inner workings of the broader disinformation ecosystem and sheds light on the long tail of state-linked online assets.