How Facebook fuelled France’s yellow rebellion

7 December 2018

With names like “Angry Drivers of Normandy”, Facebook groups are the nerve centre of the “yellow vest” protest movement raging across France — and increasingly, a breeding ground for fake news.

When Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in January that the social media giant was going to start prioritising local news, little did he know it would end up feeding the worst crisis of Emmanuel Macron’s presidency.

Internet experts say changes to Facebook’s algorithms have helped “anger groups” like that in Normandy swell to tens of thousands of members — and last month, they spilled onto the streets.

November 17 marked the start of nationwide road blockades against rising fuel prices, which have since ballooned into a mass movement against rising living costs and Macron in general.

With thousands of posts railing against everyone from the president to a shadowy global financial cabal, the groups reflect the leaderless nature of the yellow vests, who subscribe to a variety of different goals.


A yellow vest protestor (gilets jaunes) looks at a banner reading “We want December 2018 = May 1968” (in reference to the events of May 1968) on a baricade blocking the access to the oil depot, on December 6, 2018, in Le Mans, northwestern France. (Photo by JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP)


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