ST.PETERSBURG, Fla. (Sept. 7, 2022) – The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) at the Poynter Institute, a global nonprofit known for the development of fact-checking best practices, has awarded $450,000 in grant support to organizations working to lessen the impact of false and misleading information on WhatsApp.
In partnership with Meta, the Spread the Facts Grant Program gives verified fact-checking organizations resources to identify, flag and reduce the spread of misinformation that threatens more than 100 billion messages each day. The grant supports eleven projects from eight countries including India, Spain, Nigeria, Georgia, Bolivia, Italy, Indonesia and Jordan.
“More than 2 billion people around the world rely on WhatsApp to connect with friends and family, stay updated on world events, and share information,” said Ferdi Özsoy, program manager at the IFCN. “With support from Whatsapp, the Spread the Facts Grant Program will give fact-checking organizations that are signatories to the IFCN Code of Principles resources to deescalate the harm of viral misinformation and improve the quality of public debate.”
The recipients were selected by a six-member committee made up of experts and educators in journalism, mass communications and media studies from around the world. Projects were reviewed against the applicants’ abilities to demonstrate the capacity to increase the distribution and promotion of fact checks to reach new audiences; increase the scale, efficiency or workflow of fact-checking; deploy new solutions and tools to address misinformation; or facilitate fact-checking collaboration across newsrooms through technology.
Grantees will have the opportunity to share their work with the global fact-checking community at the IFCN’s tenth annual GlobalFact conference. This premier fact-checking summit will take place June 28-30, 2023, in Seoul, South Korea, providing the opportunity to unite creators, consumers and champions of fact-based reporting from more than 60 different countries.
“We are excited to deepen our partnership with IFCN and continue investing in the growth of this ecosystem to accelerate positive impact around the world,” said Orlando Watson of WhatsApp Partnerships. “We thank all of the organizations that applied for sharing their ideas on how to improve the information ecosystem on WhatsApp. The grant recipients stand out for their innovative approaches and we can’t wait to see them get started,” said Karishma Shah of Integrity Partnerships
The Launch category consists of four organizations looking to establish a presence and/or increase their fact-checking capacity on the WhatsApp Business App. Seven organizations that are already using the WhatsApp API are focused on enhancing their fact-checking, including increasing the distribution and/or promotion of fact-checks to reach new audiences; increasing the scale, efficiency, or workflow of fact-checking; deploying new solutions and tools to address misinformation, and facilitating collaboration among newsrooms on fact-checking through technology. Learn more about the recipients
Learn more about the recipients
Dubawa (Nigeria) | Going Downstream: A WhatsApp Focused Fact-Checking Intervention | $25,000
Dubawa’s project will focus on disseminating two-minute audio fact-check reports in indigenous languages (Twi, Hausa, Krio and Igbo) to constituencies in Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone through WhatsApp. These marginalized groups use WhatsApp in a more audio-centered way where those with low or no literacy skills can send and listen to voice notes on WhatsApp. The overarching goal of this project is to extend the reach of verified information to an often neglected constituency in the fight against the spread of misinformation and disinformation on WhatsApp by using indigenous language audio. Media literacy content will also be available to equip these constituencies with knowledge on handling content they encounter online.
Factcheck.ge (Georgia) | FactCheck Georgia on WhatsApp | $25,000
Georgia’s Reforms Associates/FactCheck Georgia, an IFCN verified signatory since 2017, will launch and increase FactCheck Georgia’s capacity on WhatsApp in an effort to penetrate new fast-growing platforms and adapt content to diverse audiences. The project aims to reach new audiences on the platform with fact-based information and enhance their resilience against disinformation. To this end, GRASS/FactCheck will set up a chatbot and several thematic groups designated for specific audiences, such as media stakeholders at national and local levels, teachers and civil activists. These channels will be used to expand the distribution of mobile-ready fact-checking content and provide a service to the users for reporting and verifying misinformation of their interest.
Bolivia Verifica (Bolivia) | Spreading Truths – Sharing fact checks via WhatsApp | $25,000
In 2019, Bolivia experienced a deep social and political crisis that left open wounds that have not been closed. The departure of the then president and the confrontation in the streets caused a scenario of polarization that is largely sustained by misinformation and hate speech. This situation motivated Bolivia Verifica to embark on a strategy that combats the hoaxes that feed the confrontation. This initiative will develop a distribution system through WhatsApp for verifications carried out by the Bolivia Verifica team (Foundation for Journalism) to improve the scope and impact of its actions.
Fatabyyano (Jordan) | Fighting Misinformation on WhatsApp across MENA region | $25,000
This project aims to enhance and escalate Fatabyyano’s WhatsApp fact-checking across 19 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. They are aiming to reach 25,000 users through regular broadcasts, and monitor and fact-check viral claims on WhatsApp closely, covering all trends and events such as climate change, COVID-19, the 2022 World Cup and regional conflicts and elections.
Maldita.es (Spain)| Enhancing interactive media literacy on Maldita.es’ WhatsApp Chatbot | $50,000
This project sets out to design, develop and implement an interactive media literacy course tool that is scalable and replicable. This, together with a survey functionality on the Maldita.es WhatsApp Chatbot, aims to enhance the engagement and reach of the service and improve citizen access to media literacy education. The project will work to increase user engagement with the courses by providing them with specific content based on their course activity responses, as well as to make call to actions for enrollment and follow-up for the completion of the courses. The system will include a monitoring and statistics dashboard designed to obtain indicators on the activities and step-by-step progress.
Liputan6 (Indonesia) |Fact-6ers Synergy| $50,000
Fact-6ers Synergy is a collaboration between Liputan6.com, WhatsApp Hoax-buster activists, and SCTV newsroom to fight hoaxes by spreading facts and providing digital literacy to the broader community throughout Indonesia. One of the goals is to protect the people from becoming the targets of misinformation and hate speech, which happened in the previous general elections. Liputan6.com, as a member of IFCN, is a strong journalistic platform to stand against misinformation in all forms.
EFE Verifica (Spain)| Con check | $50,000
EFE Verifica introduces “Con Check” (“With Check”, in Spanish), a project that seeks to promote its WhatsApp tipline through podcasts aimed at the Spanish-speaking audience in the Americas and Europe. EFE — the first news agency in the Spanish language — will produce podcasts in which it will expose viral hoaxes affecting the Latino, Hispanic and Spanish populations while explaining how to send queries to its WhatsApp channel. These podcasts will be available on Spotify and will also be broadcast by Mexican media outlets SPR and Grupo Formula. They are also designed to be widely shared on social networks and contribute to media literacy as a way of protecting society against falsehoods.
Facta.news (Italy) | Infogamic: The Disinformation Game | $50,000
Facta.news will create “Infogamic: The Disinformation Game,” an engaging media literacy activity easily accessible through WhatsApp and designed to address the phenomenon of disinformation in a new and playful way. The game will be based on an automatic and interactive Q&A chat including graphic elements, videos and audio messages. Educational material will be provided throughout the course of the game to further inform the audience. Upon completion, users will receive a shareable badge or a similar proof of achievement, promoting the participant as a conscious media consumer and encouraging others to join and spread this initiative. Thanks to this game, which will be free and user-friendly, Facta’s team will expose different age groups to the topic of fact-checking and disinformation, giving users methods and tools to identify false news on their own.
BOOM (India) | Tipline Gujarat | $50,000
BOOM’s “Tipline Gujarat” is a project aimed at addressing misinformation in 10 cities in India in the run up to the state’s election in December 2022. The team will create 10 “TruthSeeker” WhatsApp Groups and a pop-up newsroom to service requests for fact checks in Gujarati.
Newschecker.in (India) | Multimedia Fact Checks On WhatsApp | $50,000
Newschecker has been actively expanding its user and subscriber base on its WhatsApp tipline in a variety of regional languages to serve people on the ground. However, every claim they receive, regardless of the media format, is met with a text response. This project will make it easier for users to understand fact checks by utilizing the inherent strengths of multimedia, making fact-checks more engaging for people.The team will develop a tool that enables fact-checkers to respond to queries received on their tipline quickly and efficiently with multimedia responses that could include images, videos and/or audio recordings. By entering information related to a claim, fact checkers’ own notes and their findings into the tool, an image/video/audio file would be generated and used to create fact check replies and templates on the API.
Vishvas News (India) | Facts’Up | $50,000
Vishvas News plans to drive a campaign named Facts’Up that aims to reach out to the public and raise awareness of the misinformation they come across on a daily basis by connecting them to Vishvas Whatsapp API. Through the Facts’Up WA Campaign drive, Vishvas News intends to create a bridge of information between people who are facing a flow of misinformation and have no idea where and how to check for legitimacy.
For more information or opportunities that scale fact-checking efforts, visit poynter.org/ifcn.
Ferdi Ferhat Özsoy
International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter
About The Poynter Institute
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