According to the report, it is increasingly hard to distinguish legitimate news from fake news, especially at such a time as this when ‘forwarding’ messages to masses of people is as easy as the click of a button from the comfort of our mobile devices. The report further establishes that “…most ordinary citizens in Nigeria and Kenya share news and fake news as an act of civic duty or social currency, not through malice.”
It is on this basis, that Andela Kenya, supported by BBC News, put together a 2-day hackathon with a goal of showcasing how technology can be used for good in fighting fake news. The hackathon saw 50 technologists from the Kenyan tech ecosystem split up in teams and hack away for 24 hours non-stop, with an aim of employing various technologies to create minimum viable products (MVPs) a.k.a prototypes, that can demonstrate the use of technology in tackling this challenge.
The winning teams, team Thibitisha, team iCODEAI, and team SeeTheLight came up with working prototypes that utilized Artificial Intelligence (AI), image manipulation detection techniques, and crowd-sourcing to fact-check, verify and distinguish fake news from legitimate news on text, video, and photos. These three teams got to pitch their ideas at the recently concluded Beyond Fake News Conference by the BBC in Nairobi, Kenya, a platform that gave them the opportunity to share their prototypes with the media fraternity, who are the trusted and core go-to on all matters news.
Hackathons are predominantly a great ground for participants to explore outside the box with various technologies in a collaborative, unrestricted environment, which is ripe ground for innovations to sprout around the challenge at hand. But with the limited amount of time for the hackathon, there needs to be additional time, effort and resources injected on to the prototypes to make them market-ready! With that, Alpha, Safaricom’s innovation wing, will be giving the top 3 teams free mentorship for the next 6 months on matters product, as the teams iterate on the solutions.
The hackathon was a success because of many diverse inputs from amazing individuals in the tech and media ecosystems, and I’d love to take a moment and thank them all for their contribution!
Thanks to our panelists as well for setting the stage for the hackathon challenge; Jackie Christie — Head of Production, BBC Africa TV Co-Productions, Pinky Ghelani — Media Personality, Brice Nkengsa — Co-founder and Director of Engineering at Andela, and Joshua Mwaniki — Country Director, Andela Kenya.
Much appreciations to our participants and top teams of the hackathon challenge, for showing that it is possible for technology to be used for good in fighting fake news!