New WhatsApp-approved tool designed to help “fact-checkers” rate articles in bulk

Efforts to make fact-checking prolific in the run up to the 2020 elections are in full force.

The software company Meedan, developer of Check – a task management system used in collaboration by fact-checkers around the globe – launched a new set of tools to automate responses to reader-submitted tips, designed to relieve “fact-checkers” from a lot of work.

The new tools that will be implemented on Check were launched by Meedan on Thursday with the approval and technical support of WhatsApp.

According to Meedan’s CEO and co-founder Ed Bice, the tools will allow users to receive content on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat or other messaging apps and directly forward it to an organization for fact-checking. The method is identical to forwarding a message to a friend or relative. If the piece of content has been fact-checked before, the user will receive an automated answer that quotes directly from a fact-checker article in just a few seconds.

“[Users] will automatically receive the results of that fact-check, along with some simple information about why the conclusion was reached, and a visual card that is designed to be shareable,” explained Bice in an email to the IFCN (International Fact-Checking Network).

So far, individual requests have flooded the organizations that verify content shared on private messaging apps, unable to answer in bulk. According to Bice, he became aware of the need for a more efficient way of dealing with the requests during the presidential elections in India.

“Fact-checkers” were inundated with bogus requests and Bice aims at creating a better way to distribute verified articles.

“If the content people send to be fact-checked is new — if it doesn’t exist in the database — then it will go into a queue for fact-checkers and, when they reach a conclusion using Check, a notification will automatically go out to the audience member(s) who shared that content with the results of the fact check,” said Brice.

Check is currently available in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, and Romanian. However, it can receive submissions in any language and has a language-detection system that lets fact-checkers sort claims by language.

Journalists will be able to customize the responses sent to audience members submitting contents, in any language they choose. In India, for example, submissions were received – and responses sent – in Hindi, Telugu, Bengali, Malayalam, in addition to English.

Costs will vary depending on the project and will be discussed on a case-by-case basis.

Filippo Cestaro
Filippo Cestaro is a tech news writer with a strong focus on AI, machine learning, and big data. His interests include AI singularity and transhumanism. He is also a contributor to Scuba Zone Magazine and joined with the University of Milan to publish work on the psychology of scuba diving. [email protected]