France has been rocked by protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial pension reforms, which have entered their tenth day. Macron’s government passed the reforms without a vote in Parliament, sparking outrage among thousands of people who have taken to the streets. The protests have been marred by violent clashes between police and protesters, with many of the altercations being shared on social media.
Amid the chaos and confusion, some videos purporting to show the protests have been revealed to be false or misleading. In one example, a video allegedly showing the National Gendarmerie confronting anti-protest police was actually filmed during an organized demonstration against police violence in June 2020, long before the protests against pension reform. Another video, which appears to show diners calmly eating pizza while a fire blazes in the background, was recorded during the recent protests but not in Lyon, as initially reported. The footage was actually shot in Saint-Etienne on March 20, and the diners were calm because firefighters were already dealing with the flames outside.
While the protests against the pension reforms may have divided French society, they have certainly united people in their use of social media to report on what’s happening. As these videos show, however, it’s important to be vigilant about the accuracy of the information being shared. False or misleading videos can fuel rumors and stoke tensions, causing further problems on the streets. With tensions still simmering, it’s more important than ever to ensure that social media is used as a force for good, rather than as a tool to sow discord and confusion.