Ekta is a consortium of six Indian fact-checking groups to address misinformation in a collaborative manner. All the groups which include, AFP Fact Check, BOOM Live, Factly, India Today Fact Check, Vishvas News and WebQoof, have also been running WhatsApp tiplines as part of the platform’s third party fact-checking program.
All six groups came together in April 2021 during state elections in five states in India to share verified information, insights and trends related to the elections. Meedan is also a partner in the Ekta consortium and provides strategic inputs along with access to its technology platform, Check, to Ekta partners. In mid-April-May 2021, when India witnessed a surge in COVID-19 cases, Ekta diversified its focus to address misinformation around the pandemic and vaccination drives.
Since its launch in April, members of Ekta meet every Monday to discuss the most viral misinformation and potential stories for collaboration. Meedan provides insights on the most requested items - text and images, received on the tiplines. Input and intelligence is then shared on fact-checks and explainers — evidence from the ground, quotes from experts and government officials and regional insights. Content developed in a collaborative manner is published on partners’ websites with the Ekta branding.
The pooling of resources and intelligence is meant to reduce the time taken by participating newsrooms in fact-checking a viral piece of misinformation. The aim is to collaboratively work on a minimum of one story a week. All the reports produced by members of Ekta through the collaboration are curated as weekly blog posts on Ekta’s website. Meedan’s Health Desk shares inputs from subject experts on misinformation related to COVID-19 and health related topics.
Over the past weeks, Ekta has covered misinformation around the West Bengal election, post-poll violence, COVID-19, oxygen shortage in hospitals during the current surge in viral infections, alternative treatments of COVID-19, vaccines and conspiracy theories about the pandemic. Till date Ekta has published ten collaborative blogposts and collaboratively worked on five viral claims. Here are a few blog posts from Ekta showcasing the work of the coalition.
- Ekta Flags Video From Bangladesh Which Has Been Falsely Linked to Post Poll Violence & Alleged Rape in West Bengal
- Ekta Counters Misleading Posts Prescribing Homeopathic Aspidosperma As a Substitute for Oxygen in COVID-19 Patients
- Viral Posts Blaming State Governments for Delayed Installation of Oxygen Plants Are Misleading, Finds Ekta
- The Come-back of a Fallacy: Read Ekta’s Debunks of Claims Linking COVID-19 and 5G
- Ekta Flags Unrelated and Old Images Used to Claim Oxygen Shortage in India
- Morphed Images, Old Videos & Fake Election Surveys: What We’ve Seen So Far During 2021 State Elections in India
- Online conversations are heavily influenced by news coverage, like the 2022 Supreme Court decision on abortion. The relationship is less clear between big breaking news and specific increases in online misinformation.
- The tweets analyzed were a random sample qualitatively coded as “misinformation” or “not misinformation” by two qualitative coders trained in public health and internet studies.
- This method used Twitter’s historical search API
- The peak was a significant outlier compared to days before it using Grubbs' test for outliers for Chemical Abortion (p<0.2 for the decision; p<0.003 for the leak) and Herbal Abortion (p<0.001 for the decision and leak).
- All our searches were case insensitive and could match substrings; so, “revers” matches “reverse”, “reversal”, etc.
Sneha Alexander is Program Manager for APAC at Meedan. She is a public policy graduate with work experiences as a data journalist and fact-checker in India. Sneha is a trainer in media literacy and fact-checking and has coordinated work related to the Ekta consortium in India.