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Fake BBC tweet spreads fabricated Macron quote

April 18, 2022 GMT
French President and centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron speaks during a campaign rally, Saturday, April 16, 2022 in Marseille, southern France. On Monday, April 18, 2022, The Associated Press reported on an image made to look like a BBC tweet that spread a fabricated quote attributed to Macron. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
French President and centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron speaks during a campaign rally, Saturday, April 16, 2022 in Marseille, southern France. On Monday, April 18, 2022, The Associated Press reported on an image made to look like a BBC tweet that spread a fabricated quote attributed to Macron. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
French President and centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron speaks during a campaign rally, Saturday, April 16, 2022 in Marseille, southern France. On Monday, April 18, 2022, The Associated Press reported on an image made to look like a BBC tweet that spread a fabricated quote attributed to Macron. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
French President and centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron speaks during a campaign rally, Saturday, April 16, 2022 in Marseille, southern France. On Monday, April 18, 2022, The Associated Press reported on an image made to look like a BBC tweet that spread a fabricated quote attributed to Macron. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
French President and centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron speaks during a campaign rally, Saturday, April 16, 2022 in Marseille, southern France. On Monday, April 18, 2022, The Associated Press reported on an image made to look like a BBC tweet that spread a fabricated quote attributed to Macron. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

CLAIM: The BBC tweeted that French President Emmanuel Macron said France needs to be prepared to take up to 60 million refugees from Africa and the Middle East over the next 20 years because sanctions against Russia will cause economic collapse in Africa.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. This never appeared on a legitimate BBC Twitter account, and it exceeds the number of characters allowed in a tweet. An image purporting to show a screenshot of the post was fabricated. The British broadcaster also confirmed the post wasn’t authentic. Macron has not argued that France, a country of 67 million people, needs to prepare for 60 million refugees.

THE FACTS: As French citizens prepare to vote in the April 24 runoff election that will decide the country’s next president, social media users are sharing an image made to look like a BBC tweet to push a false narrative about the incumbent candidate.

“France’s President Macron tells re-election audience, ‘Europe needs to be prepared to take up to 60 million refugees, over the next 20 years, from Africa and the Middle East,’ as he warns that sanctions on Russia are leading to economic collapse in Africa, which imports vast amounts of Russian wheat,” the fake tweet read. It was manipulated to look like a screenshot of a post from the account @BBCWorld on April 11.

The doctored image included a photograph of Macron with BBC News branding in the bottom left corner.

But the tweet was not posted on any BBC account, nor does it reflect any real story published by the broadcaster, the BBC press office confirmed to The Associated Press in an email.

“This isn’t a BBC article and we encourage audiences to visit the BBC News website if they’re unsure if a story is real,” the BBC press office wrote.

The office also reposted a Sunday tweet from BBC journalist Shayan Sardarizadeh pointing out the misinformation.

The Internet Archive saved a snapshot of the @BBCWorld Twitter profile less than five hours after the tweet was allegedly posted and showed no evidence of the post. The text in the fake tweet also was too long for Twitter, exceeding the platform’s 240-character limit.

The quote attributed to Macron in the tweet also is not real, Macron’s office confirmed to the AP. An internet search found no statements from the president resembling the quote.

While France is a major destination for asylum-seekers, Macron’s centrist government expels thousands of migrants every year who don’t qualify for asylum and has toughened immigration policy. His rival in Sunday’s presidential runoff election, nationalist Marine Le Pen, would sharply curtail immigration if elected, and her supporters have sought to paint Macron as soft on the issue.

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Associated Press writer Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.

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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.