Google collaborates with fact checkers to weed out misinformation in elections


PTI, Mar 1, 2024, 6:55 PM IST

Credit: AP / File

New Delhi: Ahead of general elections, Google on Friday announced a collaboration with fact checkers in India for early detection of online misinformation, including deepfakes, and will create a common repository that news publishers can use through the electioneering.

In a blog post, Google said as part of its commitment to enable the news ecosystem to combat misinformation, it will support Shakti, India Election Fact-Checking Collective, a consortium of news publishers and fact checkers in India, working together to aid the early detection of online misinformation, including deepfakes.

”Starting today until the conclusion of the General Elections in India, the project will focus on connecting independent fact checkers and Indian language publishers, giving them a collaborative platform to share fact checks, research resources and alerts on elections-related viral misinformation and deepfakes, saving crucial time,” it said.

Fact-checks in multiple Indian languages and formats, including videos, will be shared and amplified via partnering news publishers, ensuring they reach a wider set of language users and diverse audiences across the country.

Google working with the fact checkers will create a common repository that news publishers can use to tackle the challenges of misinformation at scale.

India goes to polls in April/May to elect a new government.

Shakti, a pan-India network, will be driven by DataLEADS, in collaboration with the Misinformation Combat Alliance, The Quint, VishvasNews, Boom, Factly, and Newschecker, with support from the Google News Initiative.

In addition, the project will provide news organisations and fact-checkers essential training in advanced fact-checking methodologies, deepfake detection, and the latest Google tools like the Fact Check Explorer, to streamline verification processes.

Google further said that the fact-checking collective will prioritise publishers producing original news in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali, and Marathi.

With this launch, the Fact-Checking Collective will continue to onboard new partners and scale the effort to reach most parts of the country.

As India prepares for its general elections, Google said it recognises the essential role of news publishers, journalists, and fact-checkers in helping people access the trustworthy information they need for informed participation.

”At Google, we have long supported this work by investing in features, resources and partnerships that can help people better evaluate online information. Continuing our commitment to enable the news ecosystem to combat misinformation, we are supporting Shakti, India Election Fact-Checking Collective.” To strengthen fact-checking organisations worldwide, including those in India, Google and YouTube had previously launched the USD 13.2 million Global Fact Check Fund which has helped to enhance the capabilities of local and regional media organisations in producing high-quality, impactful fact-checking content.

The Fact Checking Collective in India expands Google’s efforts such as the GNI India Training Network, PollCheck, Data Accelerator and Data Dialogue, through which, since 2018, it has supported the training of more than 65,000 journalists, media educators and journalism students in 15-plus languages, and empowered them with digital tools and skills needed to find, verify, and tell engaging stories while tackling the ever-evolving risk of misinformation.

”Amidst a complex information landscape, with the elections round the corner, the Collective is a crucial intervention towards building a robust fact-checking ecosystem to safeguard the democratic processes,” DataLEADS Founder and CEO Syed Nazakat said.

Co-founder and Managing Director of The Quint, Ritu Kapur said that mis- and disinformation are proliferating at an alarming pace, aided by technology and fuelled and funded by those who stand to gain by it. The only way to combat the malaise is to join forces as fact checkers and news publishers, Kapur said.

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