Fake CAQ candidate tests limits of satire on Facebook

Active since January, the page could seem authentic at first glance: its cover photo carefully reproduced the visual signature of the images of CAQ candidates, and several of the publications resembled in all respects those of the official communications of the Government of Quebec on the networks. social. Nevertheless, by consulting the content, we quickly realize that it was a parodysays Jean-Hugues Roy, professor at the School of Media at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM).

A publication of March 11, for example, indicated that all unvaccinated Quebecers over the age of 18 must take the first possible flight to Ukraine, in order to face Russia. In another message posted on March 29, Maxym Croteau proposed that from now on we name the non-vaccinated the Savages.

This publication indicating that unvaccinated Quebecers will have to go and fight in Ukraine has been shared 135 times.

Photo: Maxym Croteau

My goal with this page was to fool the conspirators and prove that they were capable of believing in anythingexplains Maxym Croteau in a telephone interview. Since the start of the pandemic, conspiracy groups have thought that the CAQ represents the new world order and that we are in a dictatorship. This is why I chose [de faire une page aux couleurs de] the CAQ, not because I have something against the partyhe assures.

Disinformation, according to the CAQ

The director of communications of the CAQ, Claude Potvin, believes for his part that there is nothing funny in the publications of Maxym Croteau. Pretending to be a candidate for a political party is problematic. For us, this is misinformationshe said in an interview before the page was taken down.

Ms. Potvin denounces what she describes as divisive remarks, which according to her exacerbate social tensions and damage the image of the party.

Before its disappearance, the fake page of Maxym Croteau had less than 500 subscribers, and most publications did not collect more than a few dozen reactions and shares. This is a message put online this week falsely announcing the opening of the Joël-Legendre Park in Brossard that garnered the most attention, garnering over 700 shares.

A publication by Maxym Croteau announcing the opening of Joël-Legendre Park in Brossard.  Word "FAKE" is superimposed on the image.

This publication falsely announcing the opening of Joël-Legendre park in Brossard is the most viral on Maxym Croteau’s page. It was shared over 700 times before being deleted.

Photo: Maxym Croteau

We have had several complaints in the last few days because people believed in it and wondered how the CAQ could endorse this kind of thing. It proves one thing: his business worksbelieves Claude Potvin.

No rules are broken, says Facebook

The CAQ had been trying in vain for more than three weeks to close the false political page of Maxym Croteau, says its director of communications. Facebook tells us that it can’t do anything, which we find completely absurdsupports Claude Potvin. The party was considering the legal tools at its disposal.

However, Facebook’s parent company, Meta, believes that the profile and content of Maxym Croteau’s page do not violate its community standards regarding misinformation. (New window). By email, the company explains that it removes false information only when it is likely to directly contribute to imminent physical harm and that other types of false information simply have their scope reduced.

We allow humor, satire or social commentary, and we believe that when people use their real identities, they are more responsible when sharing this type of content.a company spokesperson said by email.

We understand that our rules aren’t perfect, and we’re constantly reassessing how to balance our commitment to free speech with the need to maintain a safe platform. »

A quote from Meta

Facebook, however, prohibits the creation of accounts pretending to be or speaking on behalf of another person or entityaccording to its community standards (New window). On the other hand, in some casesMeta seeks additional information about an account before taking action. The right to satire seems to have taken over in the case of Maxym Croteau.

It is a decision that Jean-Hugues Roy, professor at the School of Media at UQAM, is delighted with. I find that the CAQ has very thin skin on it. For me, it’s a political cartoon that deserves to stay on the site. If Facebook had knee-jerk reactions every time it receives a complaint, I would find that scary. At the same time, it is a private enterprise; she does what she wantshe analyzes.

Maxym Croteau deletes the page

Finally, Maxym Croteau decided to delete the page Thursday evening because many Facebook users did not understand that it was satirical. The publication on the Joël-Legendre Park has been seen by more than 200,000 people, and at least half of them believed in it, according to the principal concerned.

There were far too many people sharing and seeing my posts thinking I was a real candidate and the CAQ was right that it was damaging their image, so I thought it was best to delete my page to that it can suit everyonesupports Maxym Croteau.

The CAQ’s communications director said the party was very happy of this outcome, but that it was disappointed that Facebook refused to act.

Decryptors.  Marie-Pier Elie, Jeff Yates, Nicholas De Rosa and Alexis De Lancer.

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