2019 Annual Report

Meedan is a global technology not-for-profit that develops open-source tools for creating and sharing context on digital media through annotation, verification, archival, and translation. We co-create programmatic initiatives with technologists, newsrooms, fact-checkers, public health professionals, NGOs and academic institutions on award-winning projects from election monitoring to pandemic response to human rights documentation.

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.

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1. CEO's Note

introduction

Hi Meedan Friend,

It’s comforting to return. Probably has something to do with the fact that we are on a planet that spins on its axis once a day. During times of chaos, confusion and uncertainty being asked to return to a regular task can feel like a lifeline. Writing this note to you from day 22 of our shelter-in-place here at the home office in Woodacre, CA, I am grateful not only for the honor of looking back across an amazing year for this organization but also for the momentary normality from my annual return to the task of remarking on the past year at Meedan.

How our past shaped our future

As a context company, I will make an effort to also situate this note in the data that describes the current global pandemic. This annual CEO letter is being written on a day when the World Health Organization notes 1,279,722 confirmed global cases of COVID-19. The year began with concern for Wuhan and China, but by the start of March there was more attention on other East Asian countries. By the end of March, of course, more focus on Iran, Europe, and the US. We are currently bracing ourselves for the focus to unfortunately move to countries in the greater Global South, including the North Africa Western Asia region, Africa, Latin America and Asia Pacific, where social distancing is much harder, and where COVID-19 is likely to have unprecedented devastating effects.

Today as I write this note, we have made public an ambitious COVID-19 response database and toolkit effort with the support of Sida, Google, Facebook, Omidyar, and a cast of global public health experts. I am reminded of a similar point in the early weeks of 2011 when our team efforts were in the course of a few short days converted to working with a community of hundreds of translators to share personal narratives from inside the Egyptian revolution.

Just as our work to establish and staff a team of journalists and engineers in Cairo from 2007 placed us in a unique position do important work during the Arab Spring, our work on Covid-19 response began in 2018 when we established Meedan’s Digital Health Lab as a research and practice hub for developing a standard of care for responding to misinfodemics. Which is perhaps a thread I can follow here to get back to the task of reporting on Meedan’s remarkable year in 2019.

We have always viewed our work as fundamentally global, from our beginnings in 2006 building a social network for translating and annotating global media to our work since 2011 on media verification and fact-checking workflow, we have always emphasized the need to work across boundaries and between communities. In 2019 we formalized this community aspect of our work, launching the Check Global Network with LatAm, APAC, NAWA (North Africa West Asia), and East African partners. A few of the highlights from this network:

We supported the inspiring women’s media collective Chicas Poderosas to lead three Mediathons in 2019, in Argentina, Colombia and Mexico, attended by 300 women journalists. Mediathons are two-day events where journalists, communicators, designers, and other women who work in media gather with the aim of creating collaborative, multimedia, journalistic projects to make visible under-represented issues.

The NAWA Investigative Fund is an initiative of Check Global to financially support new, quality investigative journalism from, for, and about the Arab region. The NAWA-IF supports a new generation of digital investigative journalists in the North Africa and West Asia (NAWA) region by providing micro-grants for investigative work across all media.

During 2019, our partner Mnemonic has published four full-length open source investigations in Syria. The investigations included the bombing of civilian infrastructure such as medical facilities, as well as the use of chemical weapons against civilians in Syria and the export of these chemicals from the EU to Syria after sanctions.

Our work with Hacks/Hackers on the Credibility Coalition continued in 2019, with the release of the CredCat as a compendium of misinformation response efforts around the world.

Our election monitoring work continued with important efforts in APAC. We ran a Pop-Up Newsroom (our partnership with Fathm) with WhatsApp and the civic media studio Proto. The Checkpoint project team monitored and responded to visual misinformation circulating on WhatsApp through the run up to the Indian national election in July. In parallel we ran election monitoring projects in Indonesia, Cekfakta, with partner Tempo.co, and in the Philippines, Tsek.ph, with partner Vera Files.

Checkpoint was also the first release of our open source solution for monitoring and responding to misinformation on WhatsApp. This technology is a version of Check that is integrated with WhatsApp (and a dozen other closed messaging apps) and optimized for efficiently sorting thousands of incoming messages and generating visual cards for viral response. We’ve been extremely fortunate to have WhatsApp as a partner in this work to design and develop tools to address the most daunting aspect of the global misinformation challenge - misinformation response in E2E encrypted messaging networks.

Looking back, it is clear that our accomplishments in 2019 have positioned us well to contribute to the unfolding crisis of Covid-19. From this vantage point it is pretty clear that now, more than ever, the world needs Meedan to succeed in its mission to improve the equity, diversity, and inclusion in our digital ecologies as a means to create and extend a healthier world. As a small but mighty organization we will continue to build global infrastructure in code, data, partners, and research to address the grand challenges that feel so close and pressing.

Please be safe and stay healthy.

Yours,

Ed

Woodacre, CA



Mission Statement

Meedan is a technology not-for-profit that builds tools and develops programs to strengthen global journalism, digital literacy, and accessibility of information.

Geographic Areas Served

  • India
  • South Africa
  • East Africa
  • Nigeria
  • Kenya
  • United States
  • Tunisia
  • Mexico
  • Latin America
  • Zimbabwe
  • NAWA region
  • Western Sahara
  • Philippines
  • Lebanon
  • Syria
  • Yemen
  • Egypt

Timeline

01
Tom Trewinnard, with ICFJ, gave a training on misinformation collaboration in Moldova

Pop-Up Newsroom - Chisinau, Moldova

03
Dwight Knell presented on CredCo with Connie Moon Sehat and Sewell Chan

SXSW: Nutrition Labels for News - Austin, Texas

Caio Almeida presented on free software using Check

Computing Week - Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Brazil

Daniela Feitosa presented on history of the web and web development with Ruby on Rails

Computing Week - Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Brazil

Nat Gyenes presented on credibility coalition and participated in a panel with other organizations working in the credibility sector

Google News Initiative Summit - Google HQ, Silicon Valley, California

Caio Almeida presented Check and Check message (Whatsapp Integration)

Tech & Check - Duke University, Durham, NC, USA

04
Wafaa Heikal showcased Montage tool, gave a session about elections in Zimbabwe with CITE and participated in the localization lab summit

Internet Freedom Festival - Valencia, Spain

Meedan's crew (Nat Gyenes, Dwight Knell, Wafaa Heikal, Uva Vaca, Ed Bice, Tom Trewinnard) hosted a health misinformation workshop, presented on a health misinformation panel related to the Path project, moderated a panel on journalism and chat applications

International Journalism Festival - Perugia, Italy

Ed Bice and Tom Trewinnard collaborated to design a large scale collaboration for the US 2020 elections

Pop-Up Newsroom: US2020 - Washington DC

Nat Gyenes presented on Path, discussed the challenges of health misinformation and technological collaborations to address them

SwitchPoint - Saxapahaw, North Carolina

05
Caio Almeida presented on Rails and GraphQL, which are technologies heavily used on Check

Mexico on Rails - Mexico City, Mexico

Meedan's crew (Ed Bice, Tom Trewinnard, Dima Saber and Wafaa Heikal) participated in misinformation panel

Stockholm Internet Forum - Stockholm, Sweden

Ed Bice met with Checkpoint project team

New Delhi, India

Katherine Lo moderated a Speech Police session at the launch of David Kaye's new book

Rights Night 1st Amendment: David Kaye Book Launch - Los Angeles Central Library

Daniela Feitosa participated in a panel about inclusion of women in computer courses

Ethics and Computing - Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Brazil

Caio Almeida participated in a panel about free software

Ethics and Computing - Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Brazil

06
Meedan presented in 11 sessions during Rightscon and led a live translation lab for all the event tweets

Rights Con - Tunisia

Meedan co-sponsored Rails Girls event. Daniela Feitosa, Caio Almeida and Alexandre Amorim organized the development workshop for girls and presented Meedan's Check and Bridge during the event

Rails Girls Salvador - Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Brazil

Wafaa Heikal represented Meedan at meetings with our fact-checking partners in Africa and Asia

Global Fact 6 - Cape Town, South Africa

08
Katherine Lo moderated a workshop on abusive language online presenting machine learning solutions for moderation

The 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL) - Florence, Italy

09
Meedan's Brazil crew (Caio Almeida, Daniela Feitosa, Alexandre Amorim and Isabella Barroso) ran a workshop and demoed Check at the Media Fair, and Meedan co-led the Hackathon with 200 participants

Media Party and Media Party Hackathon - Buenos Aires

Katherine Lo, Nat Gyenes and Wafaa Heikal gave training workshops over a two week period

Kenya Census Workshops - Nairobi

Tom Trewinnard and Megan Marrelli represented Meedan at the largest gathering of journalists in the world

Online News Association annual meeting - New Orleans

Scott Hale represented Meedan at the academic workshop on data trusts and challenges to implementation

Data Trusts Workshop - Cambridge, UK

10
Meedan's Team Retreat

Riba de Âncora, Portugal

Scott Hale spoke about mis/disinformation and moderation topics

Turth and Trust Online - London, UK

Katherine Lo and Scott Hale represented Meedan at the Misinfo Con

Misinfocon London - London, UK

Scott Hale gave a talk on "Learning from social data to study human behaviour" to University of Oxford researchers

International Multimodal Communication Centre - Oxford, UK

Katherine Lo gave a presentation and participated in roundtable at the "Content Moderation, Automation, and Platform Accountability" session hosted by Witness Scott Hale participated in Misinfocon London

Mozilla Festival - London, UK

Ed Bice and Pierre Conti gave a talk on Check, Verificado, and collaborative journalism initiatives

20 Norwegian journalists & editors with Berkeley J-School - San Francisco, CA

11
Scott Hale gave a talk on "Learning from social data to study human behaviour" academics from across the natural sciences

Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology - Onna, Japan

Scott Hale attended academic conference on empirical methods in natural language processing (EMNLP) to present academic research on automatic detection of semantic change

Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP) - Hong Kong

Caio Almeida participated in a round table with EU delegation to discuss the role of Fake News in elections and talked about Check

MediaThon - Lima, Peru

Wafaa Heikal presented on sessions about fact-checking, debunking social media during civil unrest, and memes and propaganda. She also led a session about localization and misinformation in Arabic

Bread & Net - Beirut, Lebanon

Wafaa Heikal presented claims and memes database project during the event

Open Tech Fund Summit - Taipei, Taiwan

Megan Marrelli gave a talk on our new tool that maps anti-misinformation efforts globally

WikiConference North America 2019 - Boston, Massachussetts

12
Scott Hale and Shalini Joshi presented on Check Message to main stage and shared Meedan Research Team work

Google News Initiative APAC Summit - Singapore

Ed Bice presented on Meedan's work to a gathering of Carleton College Alums in the E Bay

The History of Meedan - Oakland

2. In Numbers

in-numbers

Here are some important numbers that show how our year went:

Check

Check combines smart checklists, workflow integrations, and intuitive design to make digital newsgathering an efficient and collaborative process. Invite your team and online community in a secure environment to work together to validate breaking news content. Then, quickly show the work to your audience on social media or your news site.


List of top things added to Check in 2019

  • Enhanced functionality of open source verification toolkit Check
  • Check integrated with other tools including scrapers, archiving tools, mapping platforms, and visual analysis toolkits
  • Check localized into Filipino and 5 other languages
  • Improved open-access tools and technical infrastructure for independent actors in the Global South to curate, check, verify and debunk claims, links and media shared online, and to produce alternative content that helps countering mis-information
in-numbers
NPS
68
Software applications get a decent average NPS of 30
Number of countries using Check
49
Workspaces Created
258
New users that are still active
1,762
New Items Created
99,090
Items with Final Status
2,356

Claims and Memes Database

We created a unique international dataset of claims and memes drawing from our diverse international partners. We collected the dataset from Egypt, Mexico, the Philippines, Kenya, India, Indonesia, Lebanon and Tunisia in more than 13 worldwide languages including Sawhili, Tagalog, Indian, French, Arabic, Bengali, Marathi, Urdu.

Total Claims
84,470
Total Claims that reached a Final Status
1,497
Number of Countries collaborated
8

Media and Communications

Newsletter Subscribers
600+
Issues of the Checklist
35+
Views on our Medium stories
2,300+
New followers on Twitter
350+
Twitter Impressions
2.75M+
Press Mentions
20+

3. What are people saying

reviews

We are humbled by these quotes from our partners using Meedan’s tools in 2019.

It has been really great using and learning about Check, it is an awesome tool for fact checkers and researchers and individuals working in other fields.

Achol Deng Bark Kenya Check Team

Check was the platform we used to collaborate on election day. We had our own CMS and our own platform, but it was lacking in terms of managing live fact checking. I think that was solved by Check. Without that I cannot imagine how we could have worked.

Dhyatmika Check Indonesian Partner

Press

Stories covering Meedan’s work in 2019.

١٠ دروس من تونس: ممّا تعلّمنا في رايتس كون ٢٠١٩

في الجلسة ذاتها، قدّمت وفاء هيكل، مديرة البرنامج في منظّمة ميدان، أداة Check من تطوير المؤسّسة ذاتها، وهي أداة للتعاون في تقييم مصداقيّة أي محتوى إخباري بهدف الحد من الانتشار السّريع للشائعات والمعلومات الخاطئة. وذكرت بأنّ الأداة تعمل على التحقّق من الصّور والميمات أيضاً، حيث تمكّن المستخدمين من القيام ببحث عكسي للصور (Reverse Image Search) وهي عمليّة رفع صورة معينّة للبحث في مواقع، وتواريخ، وسياقات نشرها (أو صور شبيهة بها) سابقاً. وفي مجال الاستقصاء في مصداقيّة المحتوى البصري، نوّهت هيكل بأهميّة النّظر في السياق الكُلّي حول صورة ما، وعدم الاكتفاء بتفحّص محتوى الصّورة ذاتها. فيمكن النّظر مثلاً إلى: موقع نشرها، النّسبة إلى المصوّر(ة)، الشّرح أو التعليق أدنى الصورة، وكذلك التمعّن فيما إذا كان هناك أي تعديلات مصطنعة في الصورة ذاتها عن طريق البحث عن تغييرات بصريّة غير طبيعيّة في الألوان، أو معالم المكان، أو الإضاءة مثلاً.

Additional coverage

Checkpoint Tipline was launched to address the issue of fake news during Lok Sabha elections in India, April 2019. It allowed WhatsApp users to submit uncertain information or rumours they have received on Whatsapp. It supported Hindi, Marathi, Telugu and Malyalam in addition to English. It helped fact-checking rumors in the form of pictures, video links and text messages.

Checkpoint project has been mentioned in Forbes, WSJ, Globo, Times of India, Reuters, and CNN Business.

The WhatsApp tip line called Checkpoint lets the service’s 200 million users in India send messages, photos, links and videos in four Indian languages and English to be fact checked at a verification center that will declare them to be true, false, misleading or disputed. Checkpoint was unveiled the day after a long story in The New York Times described a flood of fake posts and hate speech in India that has already led to violence and risks disrupting elections.

Jill Goldsmith Forbes

“The goal of this project is to study the misinformation phenomenon at scale,” Proto’s founders Ritvvij Parrikh and Nasr ul Hadi said in a statement. “As more data flows in, we will be able to identify the most susceptible or affected issues, locations, languages, regions, and more.” The new service, dubbed Checkpoint Tipline, can receive messages in the form of images and video as well as text in English and four regional languages, it added. Checkpoint is a research project commissioned by WhatsApp.

Sai Sachin Ravikumar Reuters

WhatsApp said the tip line initiative would “help contribute to the safety of the elections … and deter people from sharing rumors that have no basis in fact,” it added. “It would also create a database of rumors to study misinformation during elections” the company added.

Rishi Iyengar CNN

4. Financials

financials

We are pleased to share our financial report for 2019.

Revenue

financials
Contributions and Grants
$2,201,812
Program service revenue
$753,189
Other revenue
$4621
Total revenue
$2,959,624

Expenditures

Total Expenditures
$2,594,758