Case Study: Debunking online propaganda with Le Monde.


France’s Le Monde wanted to help their readers sort the facts from the ‘fake news’ fiction.


DNI Innovation Fund Report - Cover
Written by
The DNI Fund

Le Monde is putting DNI funding to work to develop their rumour and hoax–busting products to meet their readers’ demands to face the facts.

With misinformation on the rise, France’s Le Monde noticed a growing feeling of distrust among their readers. The general public has learned to be wary of the conspiracy rumours and theories that spread across social media. Samuel Laurent, head of Le Monde’s fact– checking unit Les Décodeurs, wants to change the way people see the news.

Le Monde developed Decodex, three fact– checking products powered by a database of 600 websites deemed unreliable and compiled by Les Décodeurs. Decodex allows readers to manually submit URLs that they want to test the veracity of, but it also offers a free browser attachment which uses a coloured labelling system to indicate potential fake news. A Facebook Messenger bot provides mobile users with a similar experience in identifying dubiously sourced news.

The DNI Innovation Fund helped to build the technical aspects that we couldn’t do without funding.

Samuel Laurent
Head of Le Monde’s factchecking unit Les Décodeurs at Le Monde

Le Monde sees these tools as a rebuff from traditional news companies to social media behemoths, showing these social media outlets that it is possible to discriminate between sources. Laurent explains the partnership with the DNI “helped to build the technical aspects that we couldn’t do without funding”, allowing Le Monde to express the media industry’s defiance against impostors.

In an age of misinformation, Le Monde is working towards giving readers power over the facts. Their journey hasn’t been without obstacles. Decodex has reviewed over 10,000 websites and the sheer volume of work has proved a challenge. Not only that, but Decodex has faced some issues with the reception as some took the classifications as criticisms, while others thought it was linked to the French election, threatening to delegitimise the project. Despite this, Decodex has received international praise, with Digiage branding the project a ‘game changer’ in media. 

Le Monde continues to evolve this project, extending their efforts to the classroom where journalists are visiting to teach children about digital literacy. 

Download the full DNI Innovation Fund report 2016-2017 here to read more about our funded projects and key insights from the report.