Meedan designs and develops open source software, leads monitoring projects, produces assessment standards, and conducts trainings in support of global digital journalism, human rights media investigations, and digital media verification.
This Annual Report reflects the state of Meedan and its financial health. Meedan is a US registered, San Francisco based, 501(c) 3 non-profit organization established in 2006 that works on projects to support global journalism and cross-cultural education.
Note on the note: this writing was both human generated and authored two weeks before the release of the news on the non-release of the AINow text generator.
Friends of Meedan,
First, thanks for being the sort of friend of Meedan who makes their way to the deep corners of our online documentation and finds this year’s annual note. If it is your first time to visit an annual note, welcome to our creative meander through the year’s work.
We take a creative approach because the form itself is a bit starchy. This comes both in the expected formulation - breathless optimism overlaid on a ‘here is how we changed the world this year’ plot line, and in fact that as a CEO note, this is one person standing in to represent the work of a global, diverse, and increasingly complex organization.
So, recognizing this challenge, we did a little daydreaming. Could we perhaps write software to programmatically generate the document? We have a corpora of previous years notes for training data, and in 2018, with the generous support of the AI fund, we brought bots into Check. The thinking was that we might just toss our g-docs (9,718) and travel receipts (653), Slack messages (144,661), tweets (too many), posts (not enough), emails (embarrassing, number withheld), conference talks (17), proposals (15) and board packets (4) into Check and set the AnnualNoteBot to work. We imagined the AI might generate a thoughtful, inspiring, and eloquent overview of the wonderful things that happened at Meedan during another arguably awful year for the planet and, particularly, for the digital surface of it that we have devoted our lives and this organization to improving.
Alas, our end of grant report to the AI Fund will not include any mention of the failed AnnualNoteBot, nor will this note include any algorithmically generated content.
Instead, it falls to me, with all my human biases deployed, to share with my assessment across the continuing story of this organization. Working on tools and programs supporting human rights investigators, election monitoring, and collaborative media annotation we have put our theory of change into motion with significant and award-winning results. In 2018 our team of 16 and our amazing organizational partners created: election media monitoring projects that pushed the boundaries of rigorous classification and creative memetic response to disinformation (Pop-Up Newsroom); structured data standards that generate machine readable signals from such work and might provide an early model for researching and defining standards that could help to bring a contextual layer of credibility signals to the web (CredCo); and, the open source software that keeps all of this work organized (Check).
In the past decade we have had some very successful programs, and certainly these have had impact on policy, spurred new technical approaches to collaborative translation and verification, and powered serious investigative journalism efforts, but in 2018 I think we actually helped change the world. In Mexico, the Verificado team from Animal Politicò, AJ+ Español, and more than 80 media partners had a significant impact on the quality of information flowing through FB, WhatsApp, Twitter, and the interwebs broadly during Mexico’s historic election. This week a Mexican citizen came to me in tears with his thanks for that project - that is impact. It was the beginning of us taking what had been very technical and assessment focused efforts and bridging those to visual, creative, memetic outputs. Verificado cracked the code on high impact collaborative journalism for election monitoring, and perhaps also serves as a point of hope and optimism against the backdrop of a very difficult year for journalism, democracy, and interweb idealism.
So, with that algorithimically identifiable upnote, on behalf of our 2018 team members - Tom, An, Karim, Caio, Noha, Sawy, Alex, Dani, Wafaa, Uva, Dima, Abdul Rehman, Nat, Dwight - and our great board - Jon, Hanan, Zeynep, Tim, Maria - and the many many partners, volunteers, funders, and fans - thanks for helping us keep this crazy dream of an organization going for another year.
Open source technology and programs supporting collaborative verification, election anti-misinformation, fact checking and investigations with partners across Latin America, North America, Europe, Africa, MENA, South and South East Asia.
Collaborative initiative co-design and training events (Verificado 2018, Riksdagsvalet 2018, Pop-Up Newsroom: India, Pop-Up Newsroom: Natural Disaster). Meedan does this work in collaboration with Dig Deeper
Better standards for online content through rigorous research. Meedan does this work in collaboration with Hacks/Hackers.
Open source infrastructure for humanitarian and crisis response translation.
A timeline of the events that took place and Meedan participated at in 2018!
The Shorenstein Center at Harvard University
Cape Town, South Africa
Later on, this same project evolved to be used during the actual elections in Brazil.
São Paulo, Brazil
Salvador, Bahia, Brazil
Governador Mangabeira, Brazil
Federal University of Bahia, Brazil
Here are some important numbers that show how our year went:
We are humbled by these quotes from our partners using Meedan’s tools in 2018.
Una herramienta para hacer verificaciones en equipo: es posible administrarlas, ver el estatus, no duplicar esfuerzos y en días de elección, por ejemplo, ayuda mucho a coordinar una redacción.English
A tool for team verification: It’s possible to manage verification, see a status, not duplicate efforts on election days and, for example, coordinate a newsroom.Daniela Méndez member of Verificado team on using Check covering the Mexican election
Check is easy to use and the learning curve isn’t difficult, it helps break down the way you verify and fact-check stories or claims.Sean Ndlovu from Centre for Innovation & Technology on using Check covering Zimbabwe election
Stories covering Meedan’s work in 2018.
Then use digital forensics tools like InVid and TinEye, as well as workflow solutions like Trello and Meedan’s Check platform, to verify or debunk them.
Which led similar efforts to fact-check, verify and debunk claims made during the last U.S. election and in France's 2017 presidential campaign. About 70 other media outlets, including some of #Mexico's most-read newspapers, have signed on to distribute the content.
A platform that allows the structuring the information for the fact-checking process and customizes it according to the needs of each team.
Those historians of open source video tagging and investigation software among our readers will recognize the project as one of the first efforts developed by the team at Jigsaw and will know it has been housed over the past few years at Storyful.
"Mexico has a long history of social network manipulation that goes way back," said Tom Trewinnard, director of programmes at media firm Meedan which helped to run a project to combat fake news and disinformation in the country called Verificado.
Combining their professional aspirations, news values, and digital capabilities these students found pathways to productively deal with journalistic challenges in a real-time environment at an important political moment in Sweden.
“Lo que hacemos nosotros es muy importante, y más en los países en los que las libertades están amenazadas de verdad. Desgraciadamente, estas iniciativas necesitan dinero y la mayor parte de los fondos se quedan en EEUU y Europa. A África, Latinoamérica, el sudeste asiático… llega muy poco”, lamenta.
We are pleased to share our financial report for 2018.