A woman holds a smart phone

Global Fact Day 3: Fact-checkers discuss the unique challenges in Asia and Eastern Europe

June 24, 2020

(Internews Program Director in India Surabhi Malki participated in a panel on disinformation at Global Fact Day 3)

By Cristina Tardáguila, Harrison Mantas and Pawel Terpilowski

Global Fact 7’s third day began with a series of regional panels from Asia and Eastern Europe. The first looked at how fact-checking organizations in the Asia Pacific region fact-check culturally sensitive topics. The second and third panels considered the complexities of fighting misinformation in India. The final panel examined the challenges faced by fact-checking organizations in the Balkans, a region that has become a global hub of disinformation.

India’s fight against disinformation: The regional challenge

Moderator: Jency Jacob | BOOM, Managing Editor

Panelists:

  • Rahul Namboori I Fact Crescendo, Co-Founder
  • Rakesh Dubbudu | Factly, Founder
  • Surabhi Malik | Internews, Program Director, India
  • Trushar Barot | Facebook, Strategic Partner Development

The second panel from India, a country of more than 20 languages, analyzed the challenges around regional diversity and language barriers for fact-checkers.

Jency Jacob, editor of the Boom said that the regional languages and vernacular has been one of the biggest challenges. He said that India has about 75 fact-checkers working in 15 languages, out of which eleven of them are part of Facebook’s third-party fact-checking program and a majority of the fact-checking organizations at regional levels are start-up companies in India.

Rakesh Dubbudu, the founder of Factly, said the audience of a regional language is very different from the English and the discourse in regions is impacted by social issues other than politics.

“But this is one kind of fact-checking which gives the highest impact, in terms of opportunities, like we are reaching a population of 100 million in just two states in India when we publish a fact check. In terms of behavior, impact and distribution are very high”, said Dubbudu.

Rahul Namboori, co-founder of Fact Crescendo, which covers fact-checking in India in eight different languages said,” In regions, the first point of exposure is through smartphones. There is always a risk of threat and intimidation, especially by political parties, who sometimes publicly call out fact-checkers by publishing their names.”

Namboori points out that there is a lack of awareness among local  authorities about the effect of fake news and some don’t even know about fact-checking.

The panelists discussed the extensive need for media literacy in regional areas.

“We build a community of fact-checking community with the help of fact-checkers, formed a curriculum and on-boarded 200 trainers and trained them about fact-checking in seven different languages, and those trainers went back trained local at the community levels,” said Surabhi Malik, Program Director for Internews in India, who has been responsible for media literacy programs and runs training initiatives for journalists and locals in different languages.

Facebook India’s Trushar Barot said one of the ways that they prioritize resourcing at regional levels is through state elections. “We also look at our own data for an increase in activity, engagements, and virality across different languages to scale our process at regional levels. That generally does reflect the population of that language in India.”

(Banner photo: An Indian woman holds a smartphone. Credit: Adam Cohn/Flickr/CC)

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