Twitter may see return of #radiolondres

Internet users might try to get around ban on election reporting using code on sites like Twitter.

Coded tweets could fill up Twitter feeds this evening to get around the ban on election reporting

The hashtag #radiolondres could return to sites like Twitter to talk about the results of the first round of the French presidential elections in code, to by-pass the strict ban.

The name Radio Londres references a part of French resistance history when a French-language BBC broadcast sent coded messages from London to France to undermine the Nazi occupation.

The social media hashtag #radiolondres was first used in the 2012 French presidential election. When regulations were in place, as they are right now, preventing early results from being reported, social media users posted jokes and election results/updates on Twitter in code followed by the hashtag.

In France there is a 48-hour ban on publishing information about the vote before the closure of the last polling station at 8pm. This law, which risks a €75,000 fine if breached, is considered "obsolete" by certain observers.

The national commission of election campaign control can pass on to prosecutors screen shots of internet users publishing results prematurely, whether in code or not.

Five years ago, Twitter had about 2.3 million users in France. At that time, the majority of the coded tweets about results during the ban were from journalists’ accounts.

In 2012 the first polling stations closed at 6pm, an hour earlier than this year, and the results of the exit polls were broadcast by Swiss and Belgian media, which were not under the ban.

This year there are no exit polls. Preliminary results will instead come from initial vote counts from 250 representative polling stations. This means any speculation online is likely to be even less accurate.

Today, Twitter has many more French users, with 6 million visits to the site per month. As we await official results, could we see a big re-emergence of #radiolondres?

What is certain in such a closely fought election round is that it will be difficult to trust ‘leaked’ and coded results before 8pm.

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