The fight against misinformation in India is a challenging one. The size of the country (1.3 billion), the number of people accessing online information (over 600 million internet users), the diversity of languages and issues and the growing political and religious polarization are some of the factors that make the task of addressing misinformation an uphill one. Independent fact-checkers in India have been diligently addressing this challenge despite having small teams and limited resources. Ekta, a consortium of six Indian fact-checking groups, hopes to collectively address misinformation.
The groups involved in Ekta are diverse - from those that are strong at the regional level to those that bring global perspectives into the collective. The groups also bring language competence to cover several Indian states and commitment and credibility as fact-checkers that have been contributing to and strengthening the independent fact-checking ecosystem in India.
As a consortium that is currently analysing misinformation related to the 2021 Legislative Assembly elections in India, Ekta aims to share misinformation trends and insights from India. The consortium hopes to go beyond the elections and leverage skills and strengths that each group brings to the collective.
In this post we take a closer look at what Ekta has on its roadmap for 2021.
1. What do you hope to accomplish through Ekta?
AFP Fact Check: Fact-checking organisations in India should be a close-knitted group. For us, especially with limited resources and people in India, AFP will be glad to seek help in regions with vernaculars and hyperlocal misinformation. It’s a great opportunity to learn and cowork with the major fact-checking organizations in India.
BOOM Live: The time has come for fact-checkers to pool their limited resources and work on news events of national interest. This will ensure we bring complementary skills to work together during a national election or any crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. We see a huge advantage in addressing misinformation across multiple languages when fact-checkers who speak multiple languages come together.
Factly: A common understanding of the spread of misinformation across languages & regions and learnings to better collaborate in the future for such projects.
Vishvas News: In the Ekta group, all the fact-checking organizations have been certified by the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN). As IFCN certified groups, we are committed to certain standards and code of principles. We’re committed to non-partisanship and fairness, we are transparent about our sources of information, funding and the methodology we follow is also transparent.
All the groups involved in Ekta have their expertise in various fields on the basis of language, online presence, media literacy and so on. Every organization, including Vishvas News, has its strengths and with this collaboration, and a greater impact would be created.
WebQoof: Most of the fact-checking teams in India are still quite small and have limited resources, but if with those limited resources they can do the kind of work they are doing at the moment, imagine the impact and the work they can do when they agree to work together. In our opinion, this could mean sharing ideas, sharing intelligence, sharing team resources, but this can certainly help us all in amplifying the reach of fact-checked stories as opposed to ‘fake news’.
Also, we feel it is a great opportunity to learn from each other and come together for many such events which are of national interest.
2. As members of different fact-checking groups, what are some of the common positions and perspectives that you bring to Ekta?
Factly: As a data journalism and fact-checking group based in southern India, we bring in the regional perspective from areas we operate in, in addition to misinformation related to data/policy which we specialize in.
BOOM Live: Objective and fair journalism are BOOM’s goals. We bring to Ekta our credibility and the passion to fight communal narratives that can cause harm to peaceful coexistence between communities.
Vishvas News: Vishvas News debunks fake news in Hindi, English and 10 other Indian languages and also runs fact-check literacy drives, in the form of webinars as well as on-the-ground activities/workshops to reach out to the common internet users in Tier 2 and 3 cities, the non-metropolitan areas, across the country.
AFP Fact Check: We work to verify information from around the globe. We bring a global perspective and credibility as a fact-checking group, to the collective.
3. What are some of the areas or themes that Ekta will continue to address beyond the 2021 Indian Legislative Assembly elections?
WebQoof: Other than issues of national interest, Ekta can continue to work on broader stories around mis/disinformation including analysing and studying trends on social media and the kind of impact it has. These can be stories at the intersection of hate and misinformation, technology and misinformation and a lot more.
Factly: Tracking the spread & continuing with blog posts could be one way of sustaining the consortium in addition to any special collaboration around important & urgent events.
AFP Fact Check: Ekta can address misinformation around the COVID-19 pandemic, national crisis, natural disasters, communal events and other important events in the regional sphere.
BOOM Live: Any crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, tensions across the borders, communal riots are all matters of interest.
This content was produced by Ekta, a consortium of Indian fact-checking groups supported by Meedan. Visit https://ekta-facts.com/ for more information.