Le Monde Paris
Several days ago I received a Facebook notification that content shared on the French Sott.net website Facebook page (Les Signes des Temps) had been "rated false by an independent fact-checker."

Clicking on the notification produced this pop-up window...

Facebook false rated content
...where I was informed that fr.sott.net shared content that had been reviewed by someone called 'Les Décodeurs du Monde' and that they found it to be "false". Included was a link to the offending article on the fr.sott.net FB page, a link to and "additional reporting" page at 'Les Décodeurs du Monde', and text telling me that:
"To fight false news, Facebook reduces the distribution of misleading content while also showing additional reporting on the same topic.

Pages and websites that repeatedly publish or share misleading content will see their overall distribution reduced, their ability to monetize and advertise removed and their ability to register as a news page removed.

Deleting the misleading content won't affect these outcomes."
Here's a screenshot of the Sott.net article on the fr.sott.net FB page:
Facebook censorship Les decodeurs du monde global warming Patrick Moore
The offending article on French Sott.net is a summary of a Breitbart article, based on an interview with the co-founder of Greenpeace and outspoken critic of man-made global warming, Patrick Moore.

In the offending Breitbart interview, Moore explained how fear and guilt are leveraged by proponents of climate change and noted how "green" companies parasitize taxpayers via favorable regulations and subsidies, ostensibly justified by the aforementioned narrative's claimed threats, all while "enjoying propagandistic protection across news media."
"And so you've got the green movement creating stories that instill fear in the public. You've got the media echo chamber - fake news - repeating it over and over and over again to everybody that they're killing their children. And then you've got the green politicians who are buying scientists with government money to produce fear for them in the form of scientific-looking materials. And then you've got the green businesses, the rent-seekers, and the crony capitalists who are taking advantage of massive subsidies, huge tax write-offs, and government mandates requiring their technologies to make a fortune on this. And then, of course, you've got the scientists who are willingly - they're basically hooked on government grants.

When they talk about the 99 percent consensus [among scientists] on climate change, that's a completely ridiculous and false number."
Moore also warned that the narrative of anthropogenic global warming is an existential threat to reason:
"It is the biggest lie since people thought the Earth was at the center of the universe. This is Galileo-type stuff. If you remember, Galileo discovered that the sun was at the center of the solar system and the Earth revolved around it. He was sentenced to death by the Catholic Church, and only because he recanted was he allowed to live in house arrest for the rest of his life.

So this was around the beginning of what we call the Enlightenment, when science became the way in which we gained knowledge instead of using superstition and instead of using invisible demons and whatever else, we started to understand that you have to have observation of actual events and then you have to repeat those observations over and over again, and that is basically the scientific method."
In 2014, Moore testified to the U.S. Congress on the subject of global climate change:
"There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth's atmosphere over the past 100 years. Today, we live in an unusually cold period in the history of life on earth and there is no reason to believe that a warmer climate would be anything but beneficial for humans and the majority of other species. The fact that we had both higher temperatures and an ice age at a time when CO2 emissions were 10 times higher than they are today fundamentally contradicts the certainty that human-caused CO2 emissions are the main cause of global warming. When modern life evolved over 500 million years ago, CO2 was more than 10 times higher than today, yet life flourished at this time. Then an Ice Age occurred 450 million years ago when CO2 was 10 times higher than today...Humans just aren't capable of predicting global temperature changes."
So I followed the link to the 'truthful' article and realized that 'Les Décodeurs du Monde' is actually a section on the website of the major French mainstream news outlet Le Monde that is dedicated to fighting what it terms "fake news". The "additional reporting" article by 'Les Decodeurs' is titled: 'Why human responsibility for global warming is no joke, contrary to what the supporters of Donald Trump say'. It cites some cherry-picked temperature figures, calls Breitbart.com an "extreme right-wing website", includes a tweet by Trump quoting Patrick Moore that the climate crisis is not only fake news but fake science, says that the vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is 'man-made' and, in any case, Patrick Moore isn't the 'co-founder of Greenpeace' - as the title of the Breitbart/Sott.net article claimed, but merely the former President of Greenpeace Canada.

I checked the current Wikipedia entry for Patrick Moore and, indeed, he is described as the former President of Greenpeace Canada. That said, Moore's twitter account describes him as the 'co-founder of Greenpeace'. The Wikipedia entry for Greenpeace makes it clear that the 'founding' of Greenpeace is not something that can be nailed down to any one day or any one group of people. That said, Moore was on the very first voyage of an anti-nuclear testing ship (named Greenpeace) that was organized by the 'Don't Make a Wave Committee' that would become Greenpeace a few years later. In addition, an older version of the Greenpeace website names Moore as one of its founders.

Feeling somewhat irked that a self-styled 'fact-checker' at Le Monde had arbitrarily censored Sott.net's right to free speech - in this case the 'crime' being to merely report the words of a public figure - I wanted to know more about how FB "fights the spread of false news" and, if possible, to contest the decision. On this page FB provides a list of useful questions and answers that I'll reproduce here:

Identifying false news: we identify news that may be false using signs such as feedback from people on Facebook. Fact-checkers may also identify stories to review on their own.

Reviewing content: fact-checkers will review content, check their facts and rate their accuracy.

Showing false content lower in News Feed: if a fact-checker rates content as false, it will appear lower in News Feed. This significantly reduces the number of people who see it.

Taking action against repeat offenders: Pages and websites that repeatedly share false news will have some restrictions, including having their distribution reduced. They may also have their ability to monetise and advertise removed, and their ability to register as a news Page removed.


A: We work with many third-party fact-checkers certified through a non-partisan international fact-checking network. See table below.


A: Fact-checkers can review and rate public, newsworthy Facebook posts with articles, photos or videos.


A: For each piece of content up for review, the third-party fact-checker will be asked: "How accurate is this story? Provide your rating below." Facebook's third-party fact-checker product provides nine rating options:

1. False: The primary claim(s) of the content are factually inaccurate. This generally corresponds to "false" or "mostly false" ratings on fact-checkers' sites.

2. Mixture: The claim(s) of the content are a mix of accurate and inaccurate, or the primary claim is misleading or incomplete.

3. False headline: The primary claim(s) of the article body content are true, but the primary claim within the headline is factually inaccurate.

4. True: The primary claim(s) of the content are factually accurate. This generally corresponds to "true" or "mostly true" ratings on fact-checkers' sites.

5. Not eligible: The content contains a claim that is not verifiable, was true at the time of writing, or from a website or Page with the primary purpose of expressing the opinion or agenda of a political figure.

6. Satire: The content is posted by a Page or domain that is a known satire publication, or a reasonable person would understand the content to be irony or humour with a social message. It still may benefit from additional context

7. Opinion: The content expresses a personal opinion, advocates a point of view (e.g. on a social or political issue) or is self-promotional. This includes, but is not limited to, content shared from a website or Page with the main purpose of expressing the opinions or agendas of public figures, think tanks, NGOs and businesses.

8. Prank generator: Websites that allow users to create their own "prank" news stories to share on social media sites.

9. Not rated: This is the default state before fact-checkers have fact-checked content or if the URL is broken. Leaving it in this state (or returning to this rating from another rating) means that we should take no action based on your rating.
Reading the above it immediately became clear to me that either an honest mistake had been made in classifying the Sott.net article as 1. False because the primary claim in the content of the article - that Patrick Moore had called AGW a 'hoax' - was 100% accurate (after all, Sott.net mostly just reports the news), or there was nothing "non-partisan" about these fact-checkers.

I was ready to accept, however, that the article could have fallen foul of 3. False Headline, and that Patrick Moore was not, technically, the 'co-founder of Greenpeace' (although he clearly has as much right to that title as others based on the words of other 'co-founders') but the 'former President of Greenpeace Canada'. So I went ahead and changed the title of the article to reflect that. To contest the decision, FB provides another list of helpful questions and answers which I will again reproduce here (emphasis mine):

A: Page admins are responsible for the content they share with their audiences - even if that content isn't created by them. Page admins cannot pursue a correction or dispute. However, if the publisher that wrote the content successfully issues a correction or disputes the rating, the Page's strike will be lifted.

Note that simply deleting a post is not sufficient to eliminate the strike against the Page or domain.

Over time, Pages and domains can restore their distribution and ability to monetise and advertise if they stop sharing false news.


A: Publishers may directly contact the third-party fact-checking organisations if (1) they have corrected the rated content, or if (2) they believe the fact-checker's rating is inaccurate.

(1) Corrections: To issue a correction, the publisher must correct the false content and clearly state that a correction was made directly on the story.

(2) Disputes: To dispute a rating, the publisher must clearly indicate why the original rating was inaccurate.

If a rating is successfully corrected or disputed, the demotion on the content will be lifted and the strike against the Page or domain will be removed. It may take a few days to see the distribution for the Page or domain recover. Additionally, any recovery will be affected by other false news strikes and related interventions (such as demotions for clickbait).

Please note:

Corrections and disputes are processed at the fact-checker's discretion
. Fact-checkers are asked to respond to requests in a reasonable time period - ideally one working day for a simple correction, and up to a few working days for more complex disputes.
Under this text, FB provides a long list of the names and email addresses of 'fact-checkers' for each country (or at least every country ignorant enough to think that it's a good idea to have an official censor). Interestingly, many countries have AFP (Agence France-Presse), the French state-owned news agency, as a member of their truth police. France has five official fact-checkers, so I sent off an email to our assigned censor at 'Les Décodeurs du Monde'. Here's the email translated into English:

We have been informed by Facebook that a page on our French site that was published on Facebook has been classified as "false" by you.

The page in question is here.

A "supplementary report" on the topic links to this page on your site:

We disagree with the classification of "false" because the only error in the content was the title, where Patrick Moore was described as the "co-founder of Greenpeace". We have corrected this error to reflect that he was the "former president of Greenpeace Canada". The actual content of the article is correct: Patrick Moore did indeed describe anthropogenic global warming as a 'hoax'.

As such, the error was not 1 : "false" but 3 : "false title" (according to Facebook's classification).


We would appreciate it if you could make the necessary changes to your evaluation of the article in question.

A response wasn't long in coming:
Hi Joe,

Thank you for your message.

It seems to us that your article still relays false information. Indeed, it exclusively gives the point of view of Mr. Moore in challenging the human origin of global warming. However, this assertion, which is otherwise unsupported in its own argument, is disputed by the vast majority of specialists. These are based, as we indicate in our article, on proven facts.

We therefore consider that there is no reason, as it stands, to review our judgment.


Adrien Sénécat
There are a couple of things to note here. First, I'm not aware that it is standard protocol that every article on a topic like global warming give all sides of the debate. Second, Patrick Moore's arguments against man-made global warming are supported in the article, if only briefly. He (and many others) have made much more extensive arguments elsewhere. Third, while a lot of scientists are 'on board' with global warming, many are not, and I fail to see how not mentioning in the article that many scientists agree that global warming is 'man-made' makes it 'false', especially given the massive, government and media-sponsored propaganda push that has already convinced half of Christendom (and their dogs) that man-made global warming is real. I couldn't shrug off the feeling that the real goal of these 'fact-checkers' is not objectivity but to ensure that any mention, at all, of an opposing view to man-made global warming (and any other taboo topic) is edited out of the public discourse.

Adrien Sénécat
© @AdrienSnk / Twitter
Adrien Sénécat, apparently one of a handful of official censors declaring what is and is not fact in the French-speaking world
So I responded:
Dear Adrien,

While it may be true that a large majority of specialists agree with the human origin of global warming, not all of them do. For example, in 2018 over 500 scientific papers were published that cast doubt on anthropogenic global warming.


It is rather worrying that you feel justified in silencing free speech on this, or any other topic. This does not seem to be an approach that honors the foundation of civil rights and free speech in France. Article 11 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen states:

"The free communication of thoughts and of opinions is one of the most precious rights of man: any citizen thus may speak, write, print freely, except to respond to the abuse of this liberty, in the cases determined by the law."

Is it to be understood from your censoring of certain viewpoints that it is now illegal to express the opinion that the science is not settled on anthropogenic global warming? If that is the case, could you please direct me to the specific French law where such speech is outlawed?

I have yet to receive a response, and don't expect one. In any case, the official line is clear: man-made global warming is scientifically proven. You are not allowed to publicly disagree with that fact - or any other officially-sanctioned dogma - and 'disagreeing' includes merely reporting that someone disagrees. If you do, you will be officially silenced and your name registered on a black list. Heck, if things stay on their current track, one day soon you may even be imprisoned for saying, writing or thinking the 'wrong' thing.