Andela is hosting a 24-Hour Hackathon to fight “Fake News” in partnership with BBC

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Andela is partnering with BBC News to host a two-day hackathon which will see participants spend 24 hours working in teams to prototype solutions to solve an element of the fake news ecosystem.

Dubbed “Fighting Fake News” Hackathon, the event will take place at the Andela Kenya office in Nairobi from Friday 9th to Saturday 10th November

As part of their series ‘Beyond Fake News’, the “Fighting Fake News” Hackathon is one of a number of events being supported by BBC News, further reinforcing the broadcaster’s commitment to tackling the problem posed by the spread of disinformation. In recent years, fake news has spread widely throughout Kenya, East Africa’s most tech-savvy country, with reports suggesting that 87% of Kenyan citizens were inundated with fake news coverage during Kenya’s 2017 campaign season.

Themed ‘Technology for public good: countering fake news online’, the fast-paced event will bring together over 50 technologists with the aim of showcasing how technology can be used to identify and curb the spread of fake content in Kenya. Consisting of a 24 hour non-stop challenge, coders are expected to create mobile-based solutions around countering fake news online, an algorithm that verifies whether widely shared videos and images are fake as well as a web plugin that fact-checks fake news online.

Ten teams of 2-5 people, will present their solution to a panel of judges. The teams’ final work will be judged based on the following: Solution Quality [Does the solution work?], Solution Viability [Is it a solution people would embrace?], Application of Fake News [How well does the solution solve for fake news?] and Demo [How well was the solution presented and demoed?].

The teams with the top three strongest ideas will be given the chance to present their concepts at an upcoming BBC event.

“The authenticity of news has become a longstanding issue affecting Kenya’s social stability. Technology has revolutionised the way we consume content, enabling millions to access their news online. However, we’re also seeing the rise of technology being misused and is now becoming a major contributing factor in the “Fake News” phenomena.’’ Joshua Mwaniki, Andela Kenya’s Country Director said.

“As a company that is investing in Africa’s most talented software developers, we’re excited to be supported by BBC News; an international organisation considered to be the ‘gold standard’ when it comes to media training journalists.

For a country where as much as 88% of the population access the internet through their mobile phones, the prospects for a false news story to spread across Kenya via social media platforms before getting debunked, is extremely high.

“Hackathons encourage participants to tap into their creativity and be innovative, which is why we are confident that the Andela “Fighting Fake News” Hackathon will result in some innovative solutions created to stem disinformation on social platforms. We’re encouraging as many technologists and content developers to enter and join us as we work together to combat fake news” Mwaniki concludes.

In October this year, Facebook also announced a new partnership with Africa Check; Africa’s first independent fact-checking organisation and AFP, to launch its first Africa Fact-Checking programme in Kenya.  The programme will help asses the accuracy of news in the country and also help reduce the spread of misinformation, whilst improving the quality of news people find on its platform.

Facebook’s fact-checking programme relies on feedback from the Facebook community, as one of many signals Facebook uses to raise potentially false stories to fact-checkers for review. Local articles will be fact-checked alongside the verification of photos and videos. If one of our fact-checking partners identifies a story as false, Facebook will show it lower in News Feed, significantly reducing its distribution.

 

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Nixon Kanali
Kanali is a freelance tech journalist based in Nairobi. For product reviews, pitches, guest posts, or interviews drop me an e-mail nickcanali@gmail.com/nkanali@techtrendske.co.ke.

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