Journalist-powered search engine tackles 'fake news'

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French news organisation Liberation decided to take on a fight against fake news and hoaxes to clean the information landscape when the French presidential election entered its final stage in March last year. The result, Liberation took a bold step to stop the bleed and countered the algorithms that connect news article together without considering sources and created the first human search engine by gathering a team of journalists to answer any question asked with curated and sourced information. It started with “Desintox”, an exclusive twitter service before launching Checknews, the slowest search engine on the market, also, its most reliable.


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Case study summary

• Liberation and marketing agency JWT designed together the first journalist powered search engine where journalist answer questions in real time with curated and sourced information
• They launched the service during the French presidential election to tackle misinformation and the so-called “fake news” during the debate rounds
• Liberation relied solely on its wide journalist network on Twitter and Facebook to promote its new search engine tool
• Journalists massively shared the tool, and it became widely used after a few hours after its release

The objective

Liberation is already a long-time established newspaper institution in France. To retain and expand its subscribers base, it decided to tackle fake news and demonstrate the skills and professionalism of its journalists and editorial teams to outline its commitment to clean and verified news. Jumping on the fact-check wave, they launched the first journalist-powered live fact-checking interface to prove trusted news are more accessible than ever.

The insights

Social medias have changed behaviours in many ways. We, more than ever, consume news on our phones, tablets or laptops. In the news industry, digital channels are now taking over the classic news sources such as TV and newspaper and have become an important window for sharing news among millennials and tech-savvy readers. They can now pick their news from a wide range of sources through the social channels without the guidance of a journalist who would develop and analyse the news itself before delivering it back to the audience.

Therefore, to emerge as trusted news providers, press and news agencies have to find new ways of reassuring their subscribers on the quality and reliability of their service.

Key digital tools used

• Twitter
• Facebook
• Multiplatform and intuitive website

The solution

Political leaders have shown a worrying tendency of instrumentalising information in ways that appeal to the voter's emotions to reinforce their vote force. This has lead to misuse of information, the rise of biased news and the spread of non-contextualised information within the political debates and on social channels.

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As readers are exposed to widespread news sources, Liberation needed to ensure their subscribers trusted their services as a reliable news provider so they turned to fact-checking and pushed the concept a little bit further. In association with marketing agency JW, they opened a live fact-checking Twitter feed during the political caucuses before launching an always-on dedicated live fact-checking search engine powered by real journalists who proof facts and answer readers questions with sourced and verified information.

Through Twitter, followers experimented the live fact-checking tool during the live debates and this quickly generated a lot of interactions. The feed was massively shared by journalists and viewers from Liberation’s own network within the first minutes a reach an interaction peak after 30 minutes.

The results

• Increased reliability and reputation
• Reliable proofing and exemplary integrity
• Internally, journalist experienced a new way of interacting personally with their audience

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