In July 2023, claims began to spread on social media platforms that France had restricted "all internet access" across the country. The claim began to spread as people across the country protested the deadly police shooting of a 17-year-old in a suburb of Paris.
"BREAKING: FRANCE TO RESTRICT ALL INTERNET ACCESS STARTING TONIGHT," Twitter account @NewsForYouUS posted on July 2, 2023.
Attached to the tweet was a supposed news release from the Ministry of the Interior announcing that "temporary restrictions" would be applied to internet access in "specific neighborhoods" during the night. (The letter was originally written in French. We translated using Google Translate.)
BREAKING: FRANCE TO RESTRICT ALL INTERNET ACCESS STARTING TONIGHT. pic.twitter.com/jx3Q9Bcv1l
— News For You (@NewsForYouUS) July 2, 2023
The news release wasn't real. The Interior Ministry's Twitter account posted that the document was fake and that no decision had been made about restricting internet access as of July 2, 2023. (The tweet was originally written in French. We translated it using the platform's translate feature.)
📃Un communiqué de presse de la @PoliceNationale annoncerait des restrictions temporaires à l'accès internet dans certains quartiers.
❌Ce document est un FAUX : aucune décision n'a été prise en ce sens. pic.twitter.com/LQYPKxp0KO
— Ministère de l'Intérieur et des Outre-mer (@Interieur_Gouv) July 2, 2023
We reached out to the French Interior Ministry and will update this fact-check if we hear back.
The Twitter account of France's Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs also tweeted about the claim on July 3, 2022, stating it was fake.
📃 A "press release" from the French national police force @PoliceNationale has claimed that temporary restrictions have been imposed on Internet access in certain neighbourhoods.
❌ This document is FALSE: no such decision has been taken. pic.twitter.com/IyvFK3bN1z
— France Diplomacy🇫🇷🇪🇺 (@francediplo_EN) July 3, 2023
We checked the website of the Interior Ministry and found no news release that addressed restricting internet access in France. At the time of publication, the last news release from the ministry was posted on June 30, 2023, about the French interior minister and digital minister meeting with representatives of various social media platforms. (The news release was originally written in French. We translated it using Google Translate.)
There were other indicators that the release wasn't real. When we downloaded real news releases from the official website of the French interior ministry, we found the dates on the releases were written with the month spelled out. However, the date on the fake release was written fully numerically.
We've fact-checked other claims about the 2023 French protests, including a miscaptioned video of a French Apple store being looted.